The North-Korean government recently released new photos of Kim Jong-il on his never-ending odyssey through his country’s industrial production core. Here we see the great Leader fondling bras. This brings us to the overriding question of whether he would fondle a real breast with the same aloofness if it were covered in plastic? Or – and this is a possibility we must seriously consider – would he first calmly remove the plastic before the arousal of passion would kick in? Let us contemplate this.
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.
On the sunny shores of the Caspian, only a four hour flight away from Western Europe, the City of a Thousand Suns awaits you. Hipcescu, a thriving 21st century metropolis, home to the world’s highest building, the iconic Hipcescu Tower (850 m). Visible from every angle of the city, it is a monumental tribute to our Secretary General, V. Hipcescu. And while a highly efficient state-security apparatus ensures your safety at all times, you will thoroughly enjoy our eco-friendly beaches, exciting nightlife, tax-free shopping, reliable nuclear energy sources and excellent real estate investment opportunities. Hipcescu. Come and discover the magic.
In Senegal lives a Great Man. His name is Abdoulaye Wade and He is the Nation’s President. Somewhere in the early 00’s, Wade commissioned the construction of the African Renaissance Monument. It was unveiled in Dakar in front of 19 African heads of state on 3 April 2010, marking Senegal’s 50 years of independence. When I first saw this picture, I thought it was just a bunch of guys in front of a statue, but when I realized that the little dot in the middle was a person, I was struck by the scale of it.
The 49-meter bronze monument was built by a North-Korean firm and cost €20 million. Because it is significantly smaller than Hipcescu Tower, I am very sympathetic towards this picturesque initiative. Its Stalinist elegance points a firm vector towards the future of Africa. I don’t know if development funds were used to build it, but if so, this proves that such funds can actually be put to good use!
According to the Global Post, “Rumblings of discontent erupted […] when Wade announced that he, as “intellectual creator,” would be taking 35 percent of all tourist revenue the state monument earns.” Here we see that instead of being grateful, people complain. This is in the nature of the people. Personally, I believe that 50% – a perfectly normal share in the art world – would have been more appropriate. Thank you for your time.
This here is the Druzhba Holiday Centre in Yalta, Ukraine. The picture, which I stumbled across in yesterday’s the Guardian, was taken by Frédéric Chaubin.
It is one of ninety pictures from his recent book Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed, that documents weird and wonderful works of architecture across the former Soviet Union. Because I am so delighted by this inspiring publication, I have decided to invite Frédéric Chaubin to document the eigth wonder of the world, Hipcescu Tower. Thank you for your time.
Here is a brilliant post from C. G. P. Grey’s blog. I had never heard of C. G. P. Grey. The guy happens to be witty as hell and he’s also a time-management coach. Tim Harris, one of the Founding Fathers of the City of a Thousand Suns, Hipcescu, sent me the link to his blog. I’m happy he did. If you believe in maximizing your intake of kps (knowledge per second) – phrase coined by www.theprofessorshow.com – watch this now! Thank you for your attention.
The other day, I saw this amazing commercial for Tatarstan on CNN. I was very impressed by it. Tatarstan is a very modern place. It almost felt like I was watchting Tron Legacy when I saw it. I was surprised by the ultra-modernity of the place. Take a look. This is the 30″ version.
Like Hipcescu, Tatarstan is designed to perform and optimized for international commerce. In case you hadn’t heard about it, the Republic of Tatarstan is a sovereign state that is associated with the Russian Federation. According to this commercial, Tatarstan is one of Russia’s most business-friendly investment destinations. I wanted to share this with you, because I am a great lover of the country ads they run on CNN. “Incredible India.” “Malaysia truly Asia.” “Egypt. Where it all begins.” “Croatia. A country with 1.244 Islands.” (This is disputed by Serbia, though.) “Montenegro. Experience wild beauty.” To name a few. I’m currently considering a new slogan for the City of a Thousand Suns. I think I’d like to run it on CNN – ”Hipcescu. Where the sun never dies.” Thank you for your attention.
Le Corbusier is an architect that has inspired me greatly. If I wouldn’t have dedicated Hipcescu Tower to myself, he would have been a likely candidate. Here is one of my favorite quotes from his book Towards a New Architecture (1924).
“We must create a mass-production state of mind:
A state of mind for building mass-production housing.
A state of mind for living in mass-production housing.
A state of mind for conceiving mass-production housing.”
Le Corbusier didn’t just talk the talk, he was ready to walk the walk. And so, in 1925, he presented his Plan Voisin.
It entailed bulldozing most of central Paris north of the Seine, and replacing it with sixty-story cruciform towers, the shape of which derived from radiator elements. In the end, the plan was never carried out.
“We must find and apply new methods, clear methods allowing us to work out useful plans for the home, lending themselves naturally to standardization, industrialization, Taylorization”, he wrote. “The plan must rule. . . . The street must disappear.” Clearly, this is highly efficient thinking.
In this video, we see the master explaining his Plan Voisin.
At one point in the video, Le Corbusier’s envisioned towers are inserted into contemporary Paris. And then you realize just how beautiful it could have been…
Nursultan A. Nazarbayev is the Supremo of Kazakhstan and an esteemed colleague. He was elected president of the glorious Kazakh nation on 1 December 1991. Under the auspice of this great man, who firmly guides his country towards a brighter future, the capital was transferred from Almaty to Astana in 1997, a city constructed from scratch in the midst of Kazakhstan’s windy steppes. Winter temperatures in Astana can drop to -40 Celsius. No place for pussies and all the more so a cradle of panoramic ideological vistas and Great Deeds. During one of my low-profile visits to Astana I was impressed by the beautiful, modern architecture and the powerful melange of capitalism and state-guided enterprise. Astana is not some pitiful provincial backwater. On the contrary, it is a thriving 21st century Metropolis, where my good friend, the world-renowned architect Sir Norman Foster, has planted a marvel of modern engineering, the epic Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center.
Make no mistake, Astana is a place for happy, hard-working people. This video slideshow, adorned with stunning visual effects and a spirited folkloric sound-track, will give you a good impression of Astana, where cleanliness and visionary urban planning go hand in hand.