Thursday, April 3, 2008

Art vs. Commerce

When Louis Vuitton launched their That's Love LVOE Canvas bag last year with a price tag of $1,700, I knew that sh*t had hit the fan, because now we were entering the divergent waters of really catering to the elitists who wouldn't bat an eyelash for buying something of so little material value (all in the name of craftsmanship) because the price tag was in the name of the brand, to the wannabes who would deem it ok, because OF the brand, and not for other sensible reasons. Although I criticize the pricing strategy, I would say I was of the few who actually loved the LVOE design, but the price doesn't justify the fact that the bag was made of cotton canvas (that wasn't even coated) and glass beads (I don't care if it took 20 hours to make). I would say that the bag itself was adorable, obnoxious, yes, but a true piece only for a true LV lover.

This is why I had to smile when I saw these silk-screened canvas bags from South Korean artist Zinoo Park. Colorful, cheeky, unapologetic pop-art for the masses, with the words FAKE stamped proudly all over them, the bags were a refreshing look at the counterfeit market that has a healthy appetite for cheap designer goods. The bags were showcased at the London’s 100% Design for an art exhibit in Seoul called “Wake Up Andy Warhol.” I immediately bought two of these, a smaller one ($80) in blue and a larger one ($90) in brown. They are printed with a different design on each side, and are reversible (so buying one bag was like buying three!). Only 100 were made of each design, so it was a chance to own a very cool piece of art w/o forking out too much money. (They are now sold out from Poketo, but a search on designboom shows that they still have some left, and for a little cheaper!)

But of course, this always brings up the question, what is art, and is this artist selling out by attacking/critiquing the most obvious target? In my opinion, the elephant was already standing in the room, so why not? In the global landscape of mass consumption, there is always the latest and greatest, and no matter how you cut this one, he created a design that easily resonates with LV purveyors alike, no matter if you're a fan of LV, a critic of the counterfeit market, a critic of LV itself, or looking for a colorful bag for summer. This is marketing at its finest, and as far as I can tell, I don't believe he even infringed on any copyrights laws!

Designer Zinoo Park

The irony of all ironies was that during the exhibit, REAL LVs were silk-screened with the words FAKE and were available for sale. Shortly after that, there were knock-offs of the FAKE LV bag. This begs the question, are you buying for art, or for the quality of the product itself, when you're willing to pay for a fake LV that's stamped FAKE all over it? And would you use a real LV that had the words FAKE on it? What makes one better than the other? And are you then ripping off the artist, or the conglomerate? Who loses out the most here?

Real FAKEs above

Fake FAKEs below

Source & Source & Source & Source

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