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Haute culture

Karla Pincott

1 Dec 2007 • 3 min read

Wrong. That’s what you’re supposed to think. But it’s all a front. A bit of wheeled window-dressing as a ploy to conceal that this is really a secret club devoted to the high art and culture at the epicentre of motoring journalism.

Sure there are cars there. Lots of them … and the occasional motorbike. All gleaming and gorgeous in their extremely desirable newness.

And the motoring media cluster around the vehicles, trying their hardest to feign interest, and passing off their yawns of ennui as the result of dedicated overwork.

Because the cars are just the supporting act. What the crowd is waiting for are the headline acts — the very hautest of haute culture — pressed into service to cater for the average motoring hack’s insatiable appetite for the deepest intellectual and aesthetic sustenance.

And this year’s Sydney autofest, the Australian International Motor Show, didn’t disappoint the very discerning audience.

On the Peugeot stand, a corps de ballet of black swans floated around the new little 308, their tulle tutus fluttering as they grande jeted and sur-le-pointed all over the shop — although one ambitious lift nearly had the lead swan go ballet-up.

Audi was also inspired by the terpsichorean muse, with their A4 sedan welcomed by a group of contemporary dancers who used the cars as props for their gymnastic leaps and tumbles.

Lexus indulged the floor with an operatic performance, their golden-throated diva gesturing dramatically as she delivered a Wagnerian aria — or perhaps it was Puccini — while demonstrating an amazing 'no hands’ self-parking system.

Bufori went all multicultural in unveiling their Australian designed, Malaysian-built La Joya retromobile with a Scottish pipe and drum band.

Of course what the carmaker got wrong is that bagpipe music isn’t high culture. In fact, it isn’t even music. Not in any enjoyable sense of the word, anyway.

After all this rarefied artism, you’re probably thinking that this year’s trophy for red-haute performance went to some haiku poet who used ancient Patgonian to explore the inconsistencies of existential engineering.

But the applause for the highest of the high cultural program went to Maserati, with their curtain lifted by a couple of strapping lasses who gave a Cirque du Ceiling performance on lengths of fabric up in the rafters.

The duo’s elegant poses — not to mention the obvious power of their thigh muscles — had the aficionados extolling them for hours.

Or maybe it was the lasses’ minimal wardrobe. After all, the subject still periodically rises of the star of last year’s show — a pneumatic blonde who danced around the Peugeot stand in nothing more than a pair of knickers and a thin coat of body paint that sweated off during the opening steps.

Personally, I thought she was a fraction off the beat. And her angle of wrist gesture was occasionally at odds with the metatext of the intensely intellectual choreography.

But perhaps I’m a harsh critic, because the rest of the motoring crowd seemed to dismiss these glaring technique faults as in no way marring enjoyment of the performance.

True afficionados of high culture are a very forgiving lot.