Apparatjik, a pan-European art band based loosely in Berlin, performs avante-garde electro music in giant transparent cubes. Its members dress in costumes made of mirrors. The group’s Web site describes the players’ style as “combat-disco” — but judging from Apparatjik’s new tour vehicle, the battles are waged onstage, not on the road.
The Discoball Smart Car is a refurbished electric-drive Smart Fortwo composed of thousands of mirrors pieces, hand-glued to the car’s exterior. It took seven craftsmen three days to complete the project, just in time for the band-cum-art-collective’s tribute exhibition to the German architect Mies van der Rohe, which opens at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin on Saturday.
Apparatjik approached Smart about sponsoring the band’s tour, and the art car grew out of that conversation.
“It’s not their approach to deliver a perfect piece of art or a perfect piece of music,” said Michael Fischer, a spokesman for the project. “It’s a very conceptual project. It’s not like a regular band. They play in a cube.”
Apparatjik is a side project for four accomplished musicians. Members include the Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman, the guitarist and keyboardist Magne Furuholmen of a-ha, the Mew vocalist and guitarist Jonas Bjerre, and the producer Martin Terefe.
“The band came up with the idea of doing the movie with the car,” Mr. Fischer said. “They are all eco-conscious. Magne was driving an electric car 20 years ago in Norway.”
The group’s two-week multimedia installation at the Nationalgalerie, entitled “Appararatjik Light Space Modulator,” features a short film in which the Discoball Smart Car plies the streets of Berlin. The cityscape is reflected back to the camera by the car’s mirror panels, creating a kaleidoscopic effect that is looped with the band’s music at the museum. The work is a tribute to Van der Rohe, who designed the museum and whose 125th birthday would have fallen on March 27.
Though the Nationalgalerie installation and performances represent the group’s first large-scale project in Germany, Apparatjik is a known entity in the art world, having performed at the Serpentine Gallery in London last September.
The film is also continuously streaming in a window of the Soho House member’s-only hotel in Berlin, where the Discoball Smart Car is on display until March 27.