Drowning McDonalds in the Hirshhorn

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Like Snakes on a Plane, the aptly-titled experimental short film Flooded McDonald’s (2009) delivers exactly what it promises. The three-man Danish art collective Superflex creates a fast food junkie Atlantis, complete with drowned Big Macs, drifting french fries and unhappy meals. Flooded McDonald’s opened this Monday at the Hirshhorn and plays on a continuous 21-minute loop.

The Superflex triumvirate (Rasmus Nielsen, Jakob Fenger and Bjørnstjerne Reuter Christiansen) painstakingly re-created the ubiquitous look of a McDonald’s restaurant—an environment of mass consumption whose familiarity extends beyond culture and borders—and then turned the proverbial hose on it.

In the film, a toppled Ronald McDonald statue is left helplessly bobbing in the current, arm raised, the fallen dictator of an eventually submerged kingdom. The gradual filling of this space with water plays on man’s primal fear of drowning while referencing recent weather disasters.

"There is a toys-in-toy-shop-after-midnight feel as this scenario unfolds," says Hirshhorn associate curator Kelly Gordon. "Viewers feel privy to something and the cinematography often mimics the shots we know from disaster films."

The audio is also integral to the experience, with the gently lapping water and industrial white noise eventually yielding to clogged-ear sounds of submersion. Ultimately, nothing is left but a murky underwater world full of swirling detritus.

So is McDonald’s evil? Are we just a society of incurable gluttons? “Flooded McDonald’s is an epic and dark story, with mythological, apocalyptic and biblical references, but we wanted to make it as subtle as possible,” said Superflex member Rasmus Nielsen in the July/August issue of The Brooklyn Rail. “It’s a slow narrative of the destructive process, which we read and hear from the media every day.”

But I still can't help but wonder–what does McDonald’s call their Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Denmark?

Flooded McDonald's will be showing continuously at the Hirshhorn Museum's Black Box through November 28, 2010

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