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BMW Unveils Shape-Shifting Car in LA: A Tribute on Wheels to Artist Esther Mahlangu

Los Angeles, CA – At the forefront of automotive innovation and artistic homage, BMW dazzled attendees at the Frieze Los Angeles art fair with the unveiling of the BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA. This groundbreaking vehicle not only pushes the envelope with its colour-change technology but also serves as a rolling tribute to the iconic BMW Art Car by South African artist Esther Mahlangu.

Developed in collaboration with E Ink, the technology behind the i5 Flow NOSTOKANA allows for sections of the car’s surface to shift colours and patterns electronically, showcasing a future where vehicles are as much about personal expression as they are about transportation. The car’s debut marks a significant moment, blending the legacy of Mahlangu’s 1991 BMW Art Car with the latest in automotive innovation.

Adrian van Hooydonk, head of BMW Group Design, remarked, “The BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA is a testament to our commitment to art and technology. It’s where the vehicle itself becomes a canvas for artistic expression.” Mahlangu, whose vibrant Ndebele patterns have found a new canvas on the i5, expressed her fascination with how modern technology can bring her art to a broader audience.

The vehicle features millions of microcapsules embedded in film strips across its body, allowing for an ever-changing display of Mahlangu’s distinctive art. Accompanying the visual spectacle is a unique soundscape composed by Renzo Vitale, merging the auditory elements of BMW’s brand with Ndebele cultural sounds, including Mahlangu’s own voice.

With 1,349 individually controlled sections of film, the BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA represents a significant leap forward in colour-change technology. Following the simpler black-to-white transition of the BMW iX Flow in 2022, this model introduces a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns, hinting at the possibilities for future customisation in automotive design.

The BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA is more than just a technological marvel; it’s a tribute to Esther Mahlangu’s pioneering artistry and a celebration of cultural fusion. As the vehicle took center stage in Los Angeles, BMW also announced the display of the original Mahlangu BMW Art Car in South Africa, further honoring the artist’s contributions to art and culture.

In addition to showcasing groundbreaking vehicles, BMW’s partnership with Frieze Los Angeles continues to bridge the worlds of music and art, culminating in a performance by Sudan Archives at the Hammer Museum. As BMW ventures into the future of automotive design, the BMW i5 Flow NOSTOKANA stands as a moving testament to innovation, art, and the enduring power of cultural expression.

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