Magazine article Artforum International

Superflex: PETER BLUM GALLERY

Magazine article Artforum International

Superflex: PETER BLUM GALLERY

Article excerpt

Since 1993, the three-person Danish art collective Superflex have been encouraging locally driven, globally networked forms of self-organized cultural and economic labor in order to counter the abstractive tendencies of post-Fordist global capitalism. A well-known project is Guarana Power, 2003-, an actual soda for sale and consumption, which Superflex are producing in collaboration with a cooperative of guarana farmers in the Brazilian Amazon. They have also tested the possibility of "free" economic exchange, for instance with FREE SHOP, 2003-, wherein real shops are temporarily converted into places in which goods or services can be "purchased" free of charge.

By contrast, for "Flooded McDonald's," Superflex's first "solo" show in New York, the collective presented three video works: Burning Car, 2008; The Financial Crisis (I-IV), 2009; and Flooded McDonald's, 2009. The first is a deadpan, nine-and-a-half-minute-long HD video documenting a burning Mercedes surrounded by darkness. The video, which is shot in a single take, begins with the explosion that sets the car alight. Flames leap high into the air; the car windows explode; and the camera slowly circles the burning object, zooming in for occasional close-ups of paint bubbling off the chassis, tires popping, the interior cage smoking madly. By the video's end, all that is left is a burned-out hulk.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

While the video could be read as a celebration of the destruction of an icon of advanced capitalism--presumably reflecting a desire to burn through our seemingly unquenchable commodity fetishism--it also offers a commentary on the uncomfortable interrelationship between the spectacle of consumerism and the spectacle of anticonsumerist protest. As Guy Debord suggested many decades ago, spectacle consumes contradiction. Seen thus, Superflex's flame-engulfed car functions as an emblem of a postcontradictory world, wherein the spectacular codes of capitalist culture and of anticapitalist invective are functionally equivalent. On the level of micropolitics, Superflex do emphasize commitment to an open-source, postcapitalist model of informational, intellectual, and artistic exchange, having made this movie available for free downloading via the Pirate Bay, thereby espousing a "copyleft" relationship to their own artistic production (even if the piece is, at the same time, an edition of three with one artist's proof). …

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