Design and Violence


Superflex, 2008

Luxury destruction

This film work by Danish artist collective Superflex shows a car being set on fire. The empty car starts to burn; the cabin is filled with smoke and fire, the car-paint bubbles, and tires explode. Towards the end, the car is burned out completely. The work plays on the anti-capitalist ritual of setting fire to luxury cars in German cities — in some years, hundreds of cars are set alight in Berlin and Hamburg, with left-wing activists suspected as the perpetrators. The video, and the activity it depicts, raises questions around what we consider violence to be — does it include harm to objects, to property? And how might ideology mitigate violence? The work engages too with the spectacular sensation of violence: the thrill of flames and destruction, and the schadenfreude that might accompany the immolation of such objects of conspicuous consumption.

Image courtesy of Superflex.