“Superclogger”: Where Free Theater Meets Culture Commentary

Speaking as a recently licensed driver (since March) and a brand-new car owner (as of three weeks ago), I can whole-heartedly vouch for the fact that it doesn’t take long to get sick of driving. Sure, I love my car–and all the freedom and independence it symbolizes. But after rush hour, city-parking, and hoping the Google directions are accurate, most days, I’d rather bike. And traffic! One awful day this summer, I spent two hours sitting on 1-94–all to travel about ten miles. Believe me, I tried to stay cool. I took some deep breaths, listened to quiet music–all to no avail. The longer I sat there, the edgier I got. That’s the worst thing about traffic. There’s no way to tell when things will get moving again. There’s no way to get ahead or around it. There’s nothing to do but wait.

Now, I’ve never been to Los Angeles, but I’ve heard they have some of the worst traffic in the country. Forget rush hour–L.A.’s freeways are perpetually clogged. This makes them the perfect setting for “Superclogger”, artist Joel Kyack‘s mobile puppet show which is inspired by–you guessed it–being stuck in traffic.

It all starts with a white Mazda which Kyack and his fellow-puppeteer Michael Hayden have rigged with an FM radio hookup. They get in the car, listen to traffic reports, and wait for the word that one of L.A.’s major highways is especially jammed. Once they’re good and stuck, they open the back of the truck and drop a sign that says “Please tune to 89.5FM”–the station that broadcasts the soundtrack to their show.

The show is sponsored by LAXART, a non-profit focused on promoting and responding to contemporary art in the Los Angeles area. “Superclogger” has also made good use of promotion by way of social media–they’re using Twitter to announce when and where they’ll be on the road. They have dates scheduled through September, so if you live in L.A., catch ’em while you can.

So why are they doing this? Sure, they want to make people laugh. But Kyack says what he really wants is to make drivers think–particularly ones who regularly feel as frustrated as I did that afternoon. “It’s how you navigate, how you make the world that you want around you, and how you compromise with what the world’s giving you,” he explains. “And I think that formally, the traffic jam is sort of the perfect metaphor to explore that.”

For dates and more info, see the show’s website.

–Mo Hickey