Went to the Walker Art Center yesterday. My favorite thing in there right now is a video piece called “Flooded McDonald’s” by Superflex. It's part of the John Waters-curated exhibit "Absentee Landlord." (Brilliant.)
The film is exactly what the title says. An empty McDonald’s looks like it’s been abandoned mid-day. The camera lingers on each thing in the room: Meals both fully intact and half-eaten, a container of glistening french fries, trays of refuse, an empty cup on its side on a seat, a chair, a tall Ronald statue, a full coffeepot. All these objects become characters in the film.
Then water begins to rush in beneath the crack of the door. It’s thrilling to watch it pour in, clear and fast. It fills the room quickly. The first things it picks up are crumpled wrappers on the floor.
Flooded McDonald's from Superflex on Vimeo.
But as the place continues to fill, the water goes from clear to dirty. It darkens, clouds, fills with bits of trash. French fries drift by, ghostly cups, the chair a tilted shipwreck. The water reaches the big electric M on the wall and it blinks a few times, buzzes, goes out. Eventually it rises to the backlit menus and those too go dark. By the end of the movie the screen is a hazy brownout, water to the top of the field of vision.
It’s like watching death, I whispered to my companion, who said, I was just thinking that.
Also, it’s like America.
That alone was worth the admission. I also liked Mike Kelley’s framed carpet and map of his junior high, and the Glenn Ligon coloring-book painting, and this dolphin oracle you could ask questions by typing them on a keyboard. After you hit return, an ellipsis appears, and then the dolphin squeaks and chirps and writhes a little while its subtitled answer materializes. It is terribly charming.
|The answer to "Are you messing with me, dolphin?"|
But speaking of Facebook, this breakdown of the eight elements of status updates was in one of the newspapers on display.
Last stop before heading back north was Birchbark Books, which is owned by Louise Erdrich and is now one of my favorite bookstores anywhere, beautifully selected and appointed and staffed by an extremely relaxed dog named Dharma.
It's one of those stores where the selection is perfect instead of vast. And there are handwritten recommendations by Louise Erdrich all over. Doesn't get much better than that.