Burning Rubber

Simon Davidson’s Serene Photographs of Automotive Burnouts

A Holden VB Commodore muscle car appears suspended above the clouds in New Zealand-born photographer Simon Davidson’s latest “burnout” series. The cult gear-head activity involves spinning the rear wheels of a stationary car, by simultaneously hitting the breaks and gas, until the extreme heat from the resulting friction burns the rubber tires, literally shredding them down to their rims, releasing bilious clouds of intense smoke. The Sydney-based Davidson stumbled on a streetcar race a decade ago and was gripped by the beautifully prepared cars, intoxicating noise of the V8 engines, and enthusiastic crowds. Switching from fashion to document the culture surrounding V8 Supercar, drag racing and burnouts, Davidson began shooting all over Australia during sanctioned competitions featuring the self-built, heavily customized vehicles. “With any extreme sport there is a moment of visual harmony when all the ingredients align in equilibrium,” he explains. “Photography has the power to reveal the beautiful frozen in fractions of a second.” Davidson’s peaceful shots feature in the second issue of Paris-based biennial Garagisme, launched last year to celebrate the aesthetic power of car culture. “Davidson’s work bears no irony, no social statement,” offers Garagisme’s Creative Director Gilles Uzan. “His photos celebrate the sheer beauty and poetry of burnouts, and this is precisely what I hope to express in the magazine.”

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