SALT LAKE CITY — The conceptual artist and Utah resident known as “Super Dell” is assuring his followers that 2015 will be a year filled with “perception-altering stunts of ethically disquieting implications,” he said in a statement on his Facebook page.
Super Dell, whose legal identity is Dell Buck Schanze, took the art world by storm when he opened Totally Awesome Computers in 1997. Initially, the chain of computer stores appeared to be a locally owned and operated business offering discount PCs and laptops. But over time, Super Dell’s ruse was carefully revealed, exposing a sophisticated mechanism for inverting our cultural affinity of abject commercialism. By the time Super Dell called off his elaborate experiment in 2006, he was heralded as a superstar of the conceptualism movement.
The 45-year-old artist has pursued projects of equitable controversy since then. In 2008, he orchestrated a successful campaign to secure the Libertarian Party’s nomination for Utah governor. Super Dell later explained that the campaign was meant to “test the intellectual parameters of an institutionalized ideology under extreme duress.”
But increasingly, the true exhibition of Super Dell’s art has become his own character’s outsized personality. Blurring the line between unchecked paranoia and a primally sociopathic penchant for self-promotion, Super Dell has come to represent an exaggerated caricature of the modern male caucasian psyche.
This bizarre persona has manifested itself most recently in contrived obsessions with firearms and paragliding. In 2011, Super Dell famously filmed himself harassing a barn owl while paragliding. The video was posted on YouTube and quickly went viral.
“I think there’s an assumed dominion we place over sentient nonhumans. With that piece, I intended to arouse misgivings regarding that assumption,” he said in a recent court hearing. “When I kick a barn owl, am I entitled to do so because of a natural ascendency, or do I do it out of an insecure impulse to maintain a false impression of superiority?”
In his Facebook post, Super Dell makes big promises for 2015.
“I will definitely brutalize more birds. I want to be clear about that,” he said. “It’s obvious to me that the conversation started by the first video in 2011 hasn’t accomplished my thesis to complete elucidation.”
Super Dell has been notoriously opaque to the media, declining most interview requests or requests for comment. As such, he could not be reached for this story.