Back when he was a little child, Serbian artist Vladimir Nikolic thought about mimicking the expression of a car. On his way to school, he would shoot yearning glances at passing vehicles and secretly imitate their “faces”. In 2001, this game evolved into a series of Autoportraits, featuring interpretations of 16 car faces discovered in the streets of Belgrade, demonstrating the artist’s creativity and sense of humour. Nikolic’ work, however, aimed for something beyond the obviously effects of his photographic exercise: “In my native tongue, autoportrait means ‘self-portrait’, making the title a play of words that hints at the car’s function as part of our human identity. Although cars consist of no more than metal, plastic and rubber, we tend develop strong emotional bonds with our vehicles. We choose a car that matches our character.” We meet Nikolic at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart where he works on a new edition of his Autoportraits series.
During two nights – and offset by dramatic lighting – he photographs himself with select Mercedes-Benz models. Just like any thorough character study, Nikolic views the cars from all sides to discover the right angle with the most striking expression. After wrapping up the production, Nikolic reveals the emotions he associates with six select models.