“After Friedrich Nietzsche declared that ‘God is Dead’, the word FUCK has become the most important word in the English language”, says Osho aka Bhagwan in a speech to his followers. He elucidates his point quite hilariously. However, such transgression do not occur in Hipcescu.
Nadia Plesner (1982), a Danish artist who works and lives in Amsterdam, is currently being sued by luxury giant Louis Vuitton for depicting a so-called “Audra” bag on her epic work Darfurnica. Since January 28 of this year, Plesner has incurred a fine of €5000 a day – now totaling over €440,000 – for refusing to remove the work from her website, and for refusing to stop exhibiting the work in any other form. But by suing Plesner, Louis Vuitton is unduly interfering with the freedom of expression of all artists.
€440,000 – good for only one or two Paris Hilton shopping sprees, but an awful lot of money for a 29-year-old art student. According to Plesner, “Darfurnica is a modern version of Picasso’s Guernica,” the Spanish artist’s famous outcry (1937) against the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War. “What horror,” they must have thought at the Versailles Palace of Louis Vuitton’s legal department. “We don’t want our wonderfully exclusive upscale bags linked to such monstrosities!”
But for Plesner, Darfurnica is not about besmirching Vuitton’s carefully crafted reputation; rather, it is an exploration of the fading boundaries between journalism and advertising, between editorial and commercial content. How come, she asks, trifles about celebs have become breaking news, while a genocide happening somewhere in the world – in Darfur for instance – is not “important” enough to make headlines? “This is unacceptable and I refuse to turn the blind eye to what is happening,” Plesner says on her website.
The question is, why is Louis Vuitton so incredibly finicky about the image of one of its bags appearing in the work of a hitherto unknown artist? Does the company’s legal department believe that the Audra bag’s cameo in Darfurnica will actually damage its sales, reputation, or brand equity?
By suing, the company has opened up a can of worms, launching Plesner – a tiny dauntless David up against a powerful corporate Goliath – into the limelight as a martyr and symbol of artistic freedom and freedom of expression.
In terms of reputation management, the lawsuit is foolish and counterproductive. All the more so considering that Louis Vuitton is not the only brand depicted on Darfurnica – Chanel, Hèrmes, Paramount, Facebook, Victoria Beckham, and the omnipresent Paris Hilton are also featured. Did they sue? Nope.
Without a doubt, Louis Vuitton’s biggest tactical mistake is its failure to recognize that it is not just a brand, but also a cultural icon. In this capacity, Louis Vuitton is not merely the exclusive intellectual property of Louis Vuitton, but also an object in and of the public imagination, and a part of the cultural heritage of our time. Although it is privately owned, its iconic status has transformed it into some sort of public property, and made it an object of artistic sampling – just like Andy Warhol and his Campbell’s soup cans.
Most brands would be happy to reach iconic status, but not Louis Vuitton. The haughty brand, whose ad campaigns boast politically engaged celebrities like Bono and former Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev, has gotten itself into in a street brawl with an art student, whom it is now attempting to squash financially as well as artistically.
But the effort to erase Darfurnica from the public eye only adds insult to injury, as it is an attempt to curb all artists’ freedom of imagination and expression – not exactly the core-business of a luxury brand.
Unlike its counterparts Hèrmes and Chanel, Louis Vuitton overlooked one crucial thing: noblesse oblige.
Here are two pics from a brilliant series of photos that show Kim Jong Il looking at things. On http://kimjongillookingatthings.tumblr.com, where I stumbled upon these jewels, you’ll find more pics of the Dear Leader looking at things. What strikes me most is Kim’s invariably remote look – as if he were clinically observing the slimy remains of a carnivorous blob from outer space, without showing all too overt signs of repulsion. Kim Jong Il, a remarkable man indeed.
Kim Jong Il Looking at soy sauce
Kim Jong Il looking at breakfast
V. Hipcescu. Urbanist. Architect.
Like Leonardo da Vinci, V. Hipcescu embodies the ideal of the homo universalis, excelling in a wide variety of fields – from athletics to engineering, from poetry to music, and from nuclear physics to social sciences, to name but a few. We will, however, designate this space to his role as city-founder.
The completion of Hipcescu in 2010, with the characteristic 850 meter high Hipcescu Tower at its center, attests to V. Hipcescu’s stature as an architect and urban planner. We can clearly discern the influence of Haussmann, the progenitor of the Parisian grands boulevards, that stem from the Place de l’Étoile like beams of light emanating from a star.
As an architect, V. Hipcescu has been strongly influenced by some of the great visionaries of functional architecture – Le Corbusier, Émile Aillaud, and the lesser known Siegfried Nassuth – as well as by the ideas postulated by the Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM).
V. Hipcescu’s magnum opus is, without a doubt, Hipcescu Tower. This majestic 200-story edifice strikes a delicate yet daring balance between functionalism and cosmopolitanism. And while it is undeniably staunch and indomitable, it is also receptive to its environment, interacting with it organically, as if by osmosis.
Hipcescu Tower is the culmination point of V. Hipcescu’s architectural prowess – simultaneously a synthesis and a sublimation of the ideas and theories of his significant predecessors. Through it, we are transported into the stratosphere of Architecture. Hipcescu Tower is a monument to Virility on a scale that is unprecedented and breathtaking.
We are truly grateful for what V. Hipcescu has given us and thank him for so kindly sharing his genius with the world. On these pages, you can enjoy a selection of the most beautiful panoramas of the City of a Thousand Suns, Hipcescu. Click here to find out more about V. Hipcescu. Thank you.
For me, the hippopotamus, or river horse, is one of the most fascinating animals in the world. I am fortunate to own many hippos and I love watching them while they frolic in H-shaped ponds. Honestly, I love my hippos more than my wife. The hippo is an amphibious creature, agile, both on land and in the water. Given its formidable strength and size, it has few serious enemies. Its nemesis, however, is a phenomenon called man. On YouTube I stumbled upon some vivid illustrations of this.
Here we see three guys, 2 South African guides, and a trigger-happy American shooting a hippo bull from a distance. What strikes me is the raucous, mindless fun they have while doing it. Afterwards the American gives us a proud lecture about how unlucky this majestic beast was to cross his path. There are more videos like this on Youtube and most of the killers happen to be trigger-happy Americans. They go out of their way for a good kill. For them, killing hippos is a commodity – payment made to the hunting company made by creditcard.
Remember the wikileak video of the Americans soldiers shooting people from an Apache helicopter? Those guys were having serious fun. It’s the same kind of fun these hippo killers are having.
But no illusions, one of the consequences of Nature is cruelty. It is not the prerogative of man. There are, however, different modes of killing. In a beautiful old French documentary by l’Institut Francais D’Afrique Noir called The Hippo Hunt (1951), a tribe in Niger sets out on a hunt for hippo.
But before doing so, the river god is invoked and asked for permission to take hippo life. After intense nocturnal seances, permission to kill three hippos is granted. What a contrast with our raucous American friend! Yet, the hippo that dies at the hand of the American dies a swift death by bullet. The other hippo is less fortunate, he dies a slow death – spears poking into his head, stirring up the infernal soup of pain. For a hippo lover like me, this makes nasty viewing.