Sofia Hultén, Fuck It Up and Start Again, 2001 (one guitar smashed and mended 7 times
The idea of auto-destructive art may to a very large extent be of its time, something that fitted with other forms of protest – particularly the anti-nuclear movement – of the late 1950s and the 1960s, but its influences continue to be felt. And, of course, the idea of smashing guitars has long since gone from shocking indication of the state of young people and their music to rock cliché.
Fuck It Up and Start Again (video still)
In Fuck It Up and Start Again, Sofia Hultén draws on this iconic connection between art and music and on the idea that auto-destructive and auto-creative art can be connected and repeatedly smashes up and mends an acoustic guitar. As the process is repeated, the guitar becomes more and more badly damaged and consequently harder to remake. Even after the first reconstruction the guitar has ceased to be a functional musical instrument but after seven iterations it is clearly little more than guitar shaped patchwork.
Hultén’s approach to the destruction of the guitar is unexpectedly robust – as this excerpt shows – moving from smashing the guitar on the floor to taking a run up and launching herself feet first at the propped up instrument. I think it is this that I enjoy most about the work: it is a simple idea executed with commitment and a seriousness that belies the humour present in the outcome. I might feel a bit bad for the guitar, but this is a work that always makes me laugh.
In an increasingly throwaway society we often feel guilty about replacing things as they break rather than mending and continuing to use them. In Hultén’s work, wanton destruction is paired with an attempt at reconstruction. And the guitar is used again. But as something to (re)break rather than as a musical instrument.