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Christian Hostad's "Free Play"
Nov 22, 06:04 PM by

It was in line for an Oreo Blizzard that I heard the languid opening notes to an old Palace Brothers song and realized that something very strange was happening. The melancholy Will Oldham crooning in Mickey D’s?? Followed by Joni Mitchell blissfully reminding us that she was a free man in Paris? ?

This was indeed a real McDonalds, but it had been slightly altered for Christian Holstad’s “Free Play,” featuring a jukebox as self-portrait. Placed right near the busy cash registers, his jukebox sat in the flourescent glow of hamburger and coke lightboxes. Holstad’s jukebox of choice was the lovely old-fashioned kind, with real records and shiny buttons. He chose his favorite songs and invited visitors to select some and listen for free. The eclectic selections included Blood on the Wall’s “Walking Dead,” Jerry Garcia’s “Sugaree,” Grace Jones’ “Warm Leatherette,” and Xmal Deutschland’s “Incubus Succubus II.”
In a brilliant move, cardstock displays about the project were on every table, designed to resemble a McDonald’s mini-menu. McDonald’s cooperated happily, distributing free coupons to people who came to see the project (hence, the oreo blizzard).

Holdstad describes his project as “Changing the Beat of the Heart of America.” Adding an unexpected syncopation into the numbing muzak of everyone’s favorite franchise, he is doing his part to stir up the monoculture. We get to choose only from the mix-tape of the artist’s top 100. His personal selection of rawk-all-night or cry-alone highs and lows made a unique self-portrait amongst the predictable yellow and red decor.
-Lyra Kilston