Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Will This Kill That?
THIS is a picture of Zaha Hadid's Mobile Art Gallery, commissioned by Chanel to promote "the universe of Chanel." Sitting on a hill in Central Park, it's the second Zaha building I've seen. The experience was glum. As you walk around, creepy music comes out of speakers sitting on the ground, which has been covered wall-to-wall in an unpleasant black rubber.
In the face of environmental, political, economic and social crises, Americans are rethinking how we want to live. Let's hope this sort of ego-driven, throw-away global capitalism will be the type of thing we leave behind.
Strangely enough, Nicolai Ouroussoff seems to agree with me:
The wild, delirious ride that architecture has been on for the last decade looks as if it’s finally coming to an end. And after a visit to the Chanel Pavilion that opened Monday in Central Park, you may think it hasn’t come soon enough.
Designed to display artworks that were inspired by Chanel’s 2.55, a quilted chain-strap handbag, the pavilion certainly oozes glamour. Its mysterious nautiluslike form, which can be easily dismantled and shipped to the next city on its global tour, reflects the keen architectural intelligence we have come to expect from its creator, Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born architect who lives in London.
Yet if devoting so much intellectual effort to such a dubious undertaking might have seemed indulgent a year ago, today it looks delusional.
It’s not just that New York and much of the rest of the world are preoccupied by economic turmoil, although the timing could hardly be worse. It’s that the pavilion sets out to drape an aura of refinement over a cynical marketing gimmick. Surveying its self-important exhibits, you can’t help but hope that the era of exploiting the so-called intersection of architecture, art and fashion is finally over.
New York Times, October 20, 2008
Coco Chanel was an iconic figure of the 20th century, a symbol of French fashion, who designed classic items people still use.
French fashion used to be about classic design, great materials and superb workmanship. Now its about using branding and promotion to convince millions around the world that things cheaply made in China and sometimes designed by supermodels are luxurious, prestigious items worth thousands of dollars more than their material cost. Chanel is surprisingly still owned by Coco's family, but a lot of French fashion is now controlled by multi-national conglomerates with no allegiance to France or any other country. Their products have high-carbon footprints and are close to the opposite of current ideas like Slow Food, local economies and Small Is Beautiful.
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Why do these works always seem like they've escaped from the set of a bad sci-fi movie?
Posted by: Will Cox at Nov 13, 2008 10:01:57 PM
Because they require "so much intellectual effort", according to somebody?
Posted by: Neil at Dec 2, 2008 5:49:59 PM