31 Wednesday 31st December 2008
Superflex are a radical art collective from Copenhagen, with previous hits including a burnt out car and an intriguing ‘Free Beer' enterprise. With their latest exhibit they have flooded a McDonalds. Their cult status is likely to expand. Already pulling in crowds at the South London Gallery, it must be a good time to beBjørnstjerne Christiansen. I spoke to the man himself. There's a clip of the flood above.
DP: McDonald's are a popular target for abuse, but you intended this to be funny right?
BG: Originally, the idea was not to be fun. But when it came to working with the elements it became amusing, the Ronald Mcdonald, The ‘wet floor' sign. Fries and ketchup become characters. We tried to let the film happen as it happened, very fluid (hahaha). We focus on different details, but we didn't try to control.
DP: What real fears are you voicing with this?
BG: First of all, we tried to make it very open to interpretation. These cultures portrayed are more about consumerism than McDonald's. But they capture a global image and the kind of blind behaviourism that damages people. Also the possible consequences of our lifestyles - flooding, garbage everywhere, way too many fat people. We also encourage people to take responsibility. Look at your own role in bringing about catastrophe.
DP: Why do apocalypse fantasies appeal to people so much?
BG: Each of us dream scenarios, but we need images to respond to. Apocalyptic situations are fascinating. When we created the burning car exhibit it was a satire on media depictions of disasters. Whenever there was a riot they would show these burnt out cars. It became a symbol of disorder. We try to dig into the Hollywood versions, but use them too. Cheap sensationalism and fantastic images.
DP: Were there any technical difficulties putting on such an ambitious display?
BG: It actually went really well. We had a fantastic team - a film crew from Vietnam. We were filming in Bangkok. Together we put together the set, from the food packaging to the chairs and Ronald himself. When it came to the flooding, we had ten men continuously filling the set. We did it all in one take. From the first idea to the public viewing it took us only four months.
DP: That's remarkably quick. Can you tell me a bit about the Superflex collective?
BG: It's three guys who have been friends since meeting at Copenhagen art school. We've been working together since 1993, when we had to use our pocket money. In 1996 we worked on energy systems for East Africa and that got us some recognition. Now that we are quite well known we have more opportunities and more people want to work with us. Designers, engineers, film-makers - we welcome all involvement. People sometimes copy us and we love that; it's so flattering.
DP: What's the deal with the Free Beer project?
BG: Hahaha. It started four years ago when we were teaching in Italy. The idea came from the culture of open source, digital media - freedom essentially. We wanted to adapt that culture, make it funny and have people enjoy it. We came up with a great recipe for home brew and now we have distribution deals with hundreds of breweries around the world. Free Beer was at the Tate Modern last year. Free in origin, not in price.
DP: Well, been good talking to you Bjorn. One last thing - have you had any feedback from McDonald's?
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