The Camper BIke

KEVIN CYR combines Chinese transportation with American recreation

Artist Kevin Cyr grew up in a small mill town in Northern Maine, where industrial decline is in full swing. His interest in this phenomenon has influenced his creative choices, choosing to paint and create objects that are emblematic of the evolution of the American landscape; icons of middle-class status.

His Camper Bike – a ‘functional sculpture’ – came about through a combination of these artistic concerns, and the nostalgia they can invoke, with his period working as a artistic assistant in Beijing. As Kevin says, ‘I absolutely fell in love with Beijing, and became especially interested in the city's bike culture. I thought it was really great how so many people ride bicycles in Beijing as their main transportation method.’ A keen cyclist who had been a bike messenger in Boston for several years, Kevin was particularly excited by the cargo-hauling possibilities that his time in China illuminated: “I saw people carrying loads of building materials, large pieces of furniture, huge bags of styrofoam to be recycled; really huge items that people in the West would use pick-ups trucks for”.

It is perhaps the contrast between utility and leisure that makes the Camper Bike such an intriguing and unusual artifact. Cargo Bikes are in general designed for entirely practical purposes – moving luggage, kids, hauling trailers. They tend to be seen as something of a counterpoint to the sporting or fashion side of cycling culture: its utilitarian face. Kevin’s choice to build a retro camper over the rear of the vehicle thus strikes the viewer as somewhat incongruous as well as extraordinary.

Kevin finds this juxtaposition to be of particular interest  - his memories of family camping holidays in rural America mixed up with his experiences of urban pedal-powered transportation solutions in pupolous China. “One aspect of the project that I find really interesting is merging something quintessential Chinese with something very American. There isn't a culture of recreational camping among the people I met—many had never seen a camper before.”

Read More:

Kevin Cyr’s homepage

Load Carrying bikes on Cyclorama