top of page

Christoph Draeger

Destroying LA

June 5 - September 22, 2015

Works in the exhibition:


Front Lobby (Flatscreen)


The Last News 2002

Christoph Draeger and Reynold Reynolds,

MiniDV to DVD, 13 min


Starring actor Guy Richard Smit and featuring digital animation by PanOptic, Christoph Draeger and Reynold Reynold have made a fictionalized newscast depicting a live broadcast of the end of the world. Posing as "Guy Smith," anchorman for MSNBC’s (also fictionalized) "24 Hour Disaster and Survival Network", the actor reports a sequence of events beginning with the bombing of Big Ben. The situation gets progressively worse: Terrorists destroy the Chrysler building, aliens vaporize the White House, and Paris is struck by a nuclear bomb. Between sequences of destruction, the reporter interviews various people: Dr. Immerworst of Harvard explains that there is no reason behind the terrorists’ actions, simply that they are "evil" and should be killed. Then Charity Wellgood, pet psychologist, offers tips on how to counsel pets and children after disasters. As the action rises, the discussions give way to footages of carnage and ruin, including one shot of the damaged World Trade Center (as depicted in the movie Armaggeddon). Smith’s commentary throughout, although growing more panicked with each event, reflects first the horror, then the desire for revenge, and lastly, on whether anyone is even watching his broadcast. Begging for the viewers to call the station hotline and register their comments on air, no one does, and he is terrified. Finally the broadcast becomes fuzzy and snaps to a black screen. A commentary not only on the zeal for revenge felt by many after the attacks, but also on the often absurd manner in which the media portrayed the events, "The Last News" is a poignant and very contemporary piece about the transmission and reception of information. As more outlets of media are controlled by a small handful of corporate giants, the pursuit of profits and ratings always leads to a dangerous sensationalism, and Draeger/Reynolds parodies this to its extreme.


Right Lobby (wallwork)


Disaster Scene 1

vinyl print

Ed 3 +1Ap


Left Lobby (wallwork)


LA Fire Memorial (Rubbing)

Charcoal on paper






Main Room


Destroyin' L.A. 2014

Synchronized two-channel video installation, HD, 13:40 min


"In a sense Hollywood's frequent destruction of Los Angeles is crass. But it's more often a case of economic expediency than of ideology. Hollywood destroys Los Angeles because it's there." Thom Anderson, in Los Angeles Plays Itself, 2003). Five short excerpts of disaster movies where L.A is being destroyed were chosen. On the second screen, the scenes are critically commented by citizens of the city.









Middle Area – Left


Feel Lucky, Punk??!

MiniDV to DVD 13 min


"Back in 1996, I found two used and seemingly damaged surveillance monitors in a thrift store in New York: the image of the shop where they came from was burned into the screen from years of usage. That inspired me to imagine (and record on video) hold-up scenes which could have played-out in these monitors in reality. But instead of inventing my own scenarios, I decided to take famous hold-up scenes from movies (the choice fell to Taxidriver, Pulp Fiction, Thelma&Louise, Magnum Force, Natural Born Killer), and have them re-enacted by my friends for a repositioned surveillance camera: the goal was to fit the scenes into the ghostly space visible on the screen of the surveillance monitor. In addition, we used a second camera for close up and moving shots. In postproduction, I inserted my own rushes into the original movie footage, also using the original sound. This piece was the beginning of my explorations into the topic of the "remake".The first three shootings took place in the empty P.S.1 museum in 1997: we used the empty spaces as is, no set design but a few props (water pistol for ex). The Magnum Force clip piece was filmed in my loft in Brooklyn in 1998, using the backdrop of my apartment en lieu of a grocery store. Natural Born Killer was shot in a real supermarket in France in 2000, using the surveillance cameras in addition of a handy cam.






Middle Area - Right


Elefante 2011

HDV, 10:30 min


Elephant (2003) is a narrative film by Gus Van Sant about the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Teaching a video class at The European University in Madrid (UEM), I proposed to my students to use the campus, for a remake of the final ten minutes of that film. The architecture of UEM looks eerily similar to the school where Elephant was shot. We transposed the action to Spain, my students were playing all the roles of the Columbine students in spanish, I would direct and handle the camera. This meant that I myself slipped into a role, the one of director Gus Van Sant.The European Deluxe DVD edition of the original movie included an interview from 2003 with Gus Van Sant at his home, in which he was analyzing the movie in relation to the phenomena of school massacres and the motives of the killers, among other subjects. He speaks in a comprehensive and personal way, with a lot of empathy for his subjects. I decided to combine this interview with the re-enacted film, in order to create a emotional distance to the narrative. However, the interview with Van Sant in ELEFANTE appears as only a voice-over, like a narrator's voice.There are two versions of this piece: ELEFANTE, which is spanish spoken. The movie parts were translated and recorded in spanish during the shoot of the remake. For the translated interview, we proceeded similarly. My part, representing Gus Van Sant, is spoken by a Mexican actor, José Manuel Springer. Like any foreign language film this clip has english subtitles. Then there is ELEFANTE, "synchronized" into english:The original sound of the movie and the interview were simply synchronized with the rushes of the remake.In 2011, we witnessed the worst massacre of students in history on the island of Utoya, Norway. Historically, most of these atrocities happened in the USA, Germany, Scandinavia and the UK, according to Wikipedia. School massacres are an occurrence almost unknown to the latin culture. However, there are two exceptions: the Islas Malvinas School shooting at Carmen de Patagones, Argentina on September 28, 2004 and the Realengo massacre in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 7, 2011.








Large Back Room – far right


The Rd, 2013

Synchronized two-channel HD video installation, , 7:40 min


The piece is a meditation on John Hillcoat's endgame epic "The Road" (2009), arranged as a double projection. After a disaster, a father and his son travel through a ravaged America towards the coast, their concern is the daily survival and the search for food. First, Christoph Draeger had the original material selectively appropriated: he reduced theoriginal film to the 7:30 minutes of actual travel pictures and therefore deleted any anecdotes. Then he combined it with his own person (as a media consumer, as an artist and director, and in this work mainly as a father of a little boy) to bring it into the here and now. (Daniela Hardmeier, exhibition curator)









Small Back Room – Far Left

(After Feel Lucky Punk)


Schizo (Redux) 2004

VHS to DVD, 89 min


Gus Van Sant's Remake of Psycho (1997, color) of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960, black and white) is the most elaborate and precise attempt of a remake in cinematic history. Van Sant tried to reconstruct every scene, every camera angle according to the original - only the story is set in the 1990's: the props and costumes are from today, and the film is shot in color.Schizo(redux) is an conceptual experiment which superimposes one film over the other, resulting in a double vision: Psycho becomes Schizo. In the editing process, I realized that the original and the remake were still quite different. I tried to bring them as close as possible by re-editing both films, cutting each scenes, each segment to the same length. The sound of the old Psycho is on the left speaker, the sound of the new one on the right. The result is resembles a bit a 3D movie, only that there are no glasses to reconstruct the image - it remains schizophrenic.







Young Projects is pleased to present the first survey on the West Coast of the video work of Christoph Draeger Draeger’s extensive and multidisciplinary practice includes photography, installations, sculpture, video and film. Much of it deals directly with popular cinema and its affects, often focusing exclusively on cinematic violence and mass destruction. He is perhaps best known for pioneering the amateur-style “re-make”, where everyday people are asked to reenact particularly emblematic scenes from well-known films. Draeger is often cited as a key influence on numerous younger artists working today. The exhibition at Young Projects will feature Draeger’s latest two-channel work, the eponymous “Destroying LA” (2014), which combines essay-style filmmaking with reenactments to explore Hollywood’s conspicuous obsession with its own physical destruction. Other works in the exhibition include the artist’s highly acclaimed "Feel Lucky, Punk??!"(1997-2000), a series from the late 1990's of five “remakes” of famous cinematic hold-ups and "Schizo Redux" (2004), a full-length feature film that super-imposes Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” from 1960 on top of Gus van Sant’s ‘shot-for-shot’ remake of the same film from 1998 in glorious VHS quality - an idea that Steven Soderbergh picked up, albeit less stringently, ten years later. The show will also present "The Last News" (2002), a video work in collaboration with Reynold Reynolds that is still regarded as one of the most acidic and controversial post 9-11 artworks ever produced. Born in Zurich, Switzerland,


Christoph Draeger lives in New York and Vienna, Austria. Draeger’s work has been the subject of solo shows at numerous institutions worldwide. They include: Kunsthaus Zürich/Switzerland, OK Center for Contemporary Art Linz/Austria, Kunstmuseum Solothurn/Switzerland, Centre d'Art Contemporain Yverdon/Switzerland, Centre d'Art Contemporain Ibos Tarbes/France, Halle für Kunst Lüneburg/Germany, Kunsthalle Arbon/SwitzerlandHe participated in group shows at P.S. 1, the New Museum, MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum and the Whitney Museum, Kunstwerke Berlin, Musée d'Art moderne Les Abattoirs Toulouse/France, Centre Pompidou in Paris, Montevideo in Amsterdam, the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven NL, and the 2013 Venice Biennial, the Moscow Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial, the Kwangju Biennial, among many others Draeger’s work can be found in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York; the Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland; Centre Pompidou, Paris, Musée d'Art moderne Les Abattoirs Toulouse/France, among others.

bottom of page