Tag Archives: mcdonalds

Shocker: “Flooded McDonalds” Video Forces Rubes to Question What is “Art”?

Question: Have you ever had a dream where you were in your favorite fast-food dining establishment and suddenly it starts flooding?

Have you ever entertained the thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if Burger King got flooded?”

Is it — or has it ever been — your burning desire to see a KFC deluged to the rafters?

Have you wondered aloud (or in private, for that matter) what it would be like if McDonalds was overrun with a rushing torrent of H20?

You have? (Uh, really, you have?). Ok.

Well, guess what, kids, the short film “Flooded McDonalds” is for YOU!

Created by artist collective Superflex, “Flooded McDonalds” documents the flooding of what appears to be an actual, operational McDonalds restaurant.

At first the restaurant is shown as totally ghosted, dry and in its ordinary state but devoid of customers and staff, as if everyone who was there suddenly rushed off in a panic. There are still trays of food on tables and just-prepared burgers in wrappers in the kitchen.

Then slowly we see a little bit of water seeping through under a door. Over the next ten minutes or so the water rises, as we anticipate and bear witness to the various affects of the water on the restaurant’s interior.

Chairs get moved around, a ubiquitous Ronald McDonald statue is lifted by the tide and eventually gets toppled and ends up floating aimlessly. Some things sink, some things float. A pot of coffee still filled to the brim moves like a bouncy submarine through the flood waters. Cash registers and backlit signs short circuit.

The film is mesmerizing, strangely compelling, and positively droll. At times, it is laugh-out-loud funny, though there there are no jokes.

In fact, the film has no dramatic music, no dialogue, no explanation, nothing but the arrival of more water into what is actually a faithful and convincing reproduction of a working McDonalds restaurant.

“Flooded McDonalds” is entertaining with a nod and a wink. And it is absolutely and truly, to use a favored expression of critics everywhere, “thought-provoking.”

It forces the viewer to ask questions, and not just the kinds of “They call that ‘art’?”- or “What the hell is that?”-type questions that the non-art-appreciating rubes from the sticks would ask.

No, no, you, savvy reader, are pondering thoughtful questions like What the fuck does this say about globalization or the impacts of massive corporations on the environment? Or something like that.

The film draws viewers in with the familiar. The “golden arches” of the McDonalds logo are among the few graphic symbols easily grasped by almost every living human on the planet.

This locks in your attention and forces you the viewer to consider the impending disaster. You know what’s coming, but how exactly it’s going to unfold is the burning question on everybody’s mind.

Eventually, the McDonalds is submerged and destroyed by the deluge, which has now become a filthy stew of flotsam and half-sunken debris. The film captures the event from various camera angles, including from under the water.

This may be art and as such a fiction, but we can only imagine that what we see in the film is how it recently must have played out in real-life in places like Houston, Texas, which experienced massive flooding as a result of Hurricane Harvey and where no doubt there are many McDonalds.

“Flooded McDonalds” was first exhibited in London in 2010, but the film is now showing on a loop at the Hammer Museum of Art in Los Angeles and you can watch an edited behind-the-scenes version online below. GO SEE IT!

Superflex: Why We Flooded McDonald’s from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

New York Street Art … “McDictator” – A Nazi Ronald McDonald

This recent street art (pictures below) by the street artist “WhIsBe” in New York City is charged with provocative imagery and is a striking piece of commentary on corporate brands and the military. The artwork is a mash-up of the McDonald’s corporation’s red-headed clown mascot Ronald McDonald and its branding with fascist militaristic images (Hitler moustache, Nazi salute and uniform). This is one of the more exciting, fresher pieces of street art we’ve seen in a long time. If this wheat-paste street artwork is still up, you can find it on a wall on Thompson Street between Spring and Broome streets in SoHo.

It’s important to note art history has a long track record of artwork and artists being misunderstood and controversial. Or, to be more precise, of artists and their artwork being interpreted in multiple, vastly different ways by its audience. Especially public art and street art, which lacks the institutional context of the museum or gallery and the curatorial background that context provides to viewer. Street art imposes itself on the landscape and thus the audience. (Whereas viewing art at a museum or gallery is by and large an exercise in the audience opting in to the experience.)

WhisBe’s mash-up of military imagery and a global corporate brand to create the “McDictator” is a way of vividly, boldly taking well-known visual references and using these to make a powerful, critical and thought-provoking comment on a specific brand and corporation: McDonald’s. That’s one read. Another read is that it’s a comment on the dangers of fascism and totalitarianism, especially when these are promoted behind a cheery, charming disguise (a happy clown).

There is no explicit using of Nazi symbols in the artwork, but the figure’s pose is with little doubt derived from an archival photo of a Nazi solider (possibly Hitler) and the infamous salute, and anybody familiar with 20th Century history will recognize it as such. While some of the symbolic imagery is offensive in and of itself, it would be a misreading to think the artwork is condoning or trying to paint a positive face on the evils of fascism or Nazism and its horrors.

The imagery is a piece of visual shorthand. When this visual grammar is re-configured, re-contextualized, juxtaposed and mashed up with the McDonald’s imagery, it’s making an entirely different artistic statement than, say, if someone were to put up unadulterated photos of Hitler himself.

But like all art — in all its forms — it is the individual in the audience to make of the art what they will, to derive what meaning there may be in the work, and arrive at some understanding of it after critical thought.

See more examples of WhisBe’s street art on Global Graphica.

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