Burning Car is an 11 minute film work that documents a car on fire, burning in real time. In the film, the camera pans around an empty car, documenting the vehicle’s obliteration in a manner worthy of a television commercial. As the car begins to burn, the cabin fills with smoke and fire, the coat of paint begins to bubble, and the tires explode. By the end of the film, the car is burned completely, only its charred frame left behind. As the car is burned, the dream-images it embodies are also destroyed in the process: the American dream, financial stability, mobility, the West, escape--all smolder and are incinerated.
But burning is not an inherently destructive process; burning can also be generative. When something is burned, energy is ignited and can spread rapidly. For instance, to ‘brand’ can mean to literally sear a symbol onto something to signify ownership (The Danish word for fire is in fact “brand”). A brand, such as a copyrighted brand, is also something that can catch on and circulate swiftly.
In fact, the image of a burning car has been widely circulated in the past decade, and has become a brand of political revolt and resistance. Car burning became common practice at political riots, such as the ones carried out during the wake of the Paris revolts in 2008. Like a hot trend, the act of car-burning-as-protest soon reached the neighbourhood of Nørrebro in Copenhagen, and the burning car soon became the ‘logo’ of political rioting at the time. However, the widely-publicized image of the burning car itself was granted more mobility and exposure than the individuals burning the car as a sign of political resistance. The original sign of the burning car self-combusts, thus producing a new one.
Produced by Propeller Group (Ho Chi Minh City) and co-produced by the Vleeshal, Middelburg, Nederlands.