SUPERFLEX Flooded McDonald's

29. May 2011 to 11. September 2011

The Danish artist collective Superflex has drawn considerable international attention with a series of spectacular politically slanted projects. Superflex consists of Jacob Fenger (b. 1968), Rasmus Nielsen (b.1969) and Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen (b. 1969), all of whom attended the Royal Academy of Arts in Copenhagen and have been working together since 1993. Superflex comments on the social and economic inequality of the world, and in several of their projects the artist group intervenes, at times directly, in global market mechanisms and political power structures. Among other things, the artists have realized a biogas plant in Africa, produced an energy drink under the label Guaraná Power in cooperation with Brazilian farmers, and created the recipe for and made available to anyone a new beer named Free Beer. In addition, Superflex launched a campaign in 2007 for including the Palestinians in the Eurovision Song Contest. In 2008 the artist group produced the film Burning Car, an eleven-minute video of a burning car, the staged realism of which is to be seen as a visual/symbolist reaction to the daily media images of disasters. Flooded McDonald’s (2008) is a video installation in which a deserted McDonald’s restaurant is flooded. Slowly but steadily the water rises during the 20 minute duration of this disaster movie. In the meantime Happy Meals and other familiar McDonald’s inventory float around in the increasingly murky water. The international fast-food culture with McDonald’s as its icon and the phenomenon of floods throughout the world as a consequence of global climate change are merged here into a scenario of obvious symbolism. The guests of the restaurant have disappeared and instead plastic cups, French fries, trays and the mascot Ronald McDonald become the real actors of the staged disaster. What seems like an authentic McDonald’s restaurant is, in fact, a life-size model built inside a transparent box on the bottom of a large swimming pool in Bangkok that was eventually flooded with 80 000 litres (approx. 18 000 gallons) of water. This model situation demonstrates what happens to the world and to things during a major flooding. The alleged realism of the replica disaster is heightened through the use of authentic sound recordings of chuckling water and the humming of machines inside the restaurant. At the same time, the staged Armageddon takes on a tragicomic quality, for the incipient deluge doesn’t simply carry off the icons of consumption, but rather allows the sinking and floating objects to become figures in an absurd endgame. Flooded McDonald’s documents the fascination of an unstoppable catastrophe shown in close-up, and the viewer ends up being captivated by the images of rocking plastic cups, sinking French fries and “beckoning” Ronald McDonald figures.