Must the Museum be Defended from Branded Content?


Above the Fold: Who Gets to Define the "Museum" Today?

The Museum of Ice Cream has entered into nearly every conversation about the future of museum programming we've had with both [potential] corporate sponsors and museum administrators alike over the past year. In a panel LEAP organized last fall at Shanghai's TANK Art Center, artists Analia Saban and Damian Ortega were concerned about the precedent it was setting. In another conversation we moderated at Singapore Tyler Print Institute this spring, Australian curator Reuben Keehan was more sanguine about the existential threat (or lack thereof): his position was that museums are invested in programming for a timeline spanning a century or more into the future—entertainment that brings in the crowds is great, but collections and their interpretation wouldn't bend to the pressures of entertainment. Now, Hyperallergic has let loose another volley in the debate over "Big Fun" and museum entertainment: "But the trendy adoption of the word 'museum' has the potential to undermine the trust placed in cultural institutions, perhaps altering our relationship to culture, art, and commerce in the process." There's a Museum of Selfies, a Museum of Candy, a Museum of Feelings, and a Museum of Sex, and writer Mitchell Kuga draws a distinct line between these and "experiential selfie spots like Color Factory, 29Rooms, and Dream Room" (all of which co-brand installations with sponsors). The view from here: projects like the Museum of Ice Cream adopt the "museum" moniker precisely because they know they won't be taken seriously as a museum. It's a form of self-deprecating irony that actually relies on the understanding of a museum as a sacred and aloof space for the preservation of high culture. If that distinction were somehow erased, these pop-ups would start calling themselves The Cathedral of Candy and The Parliament of Sex instead. Bottom line for brands: if you're including art in a project, you won't win any extra points by calling it a self-proclaimed museum. Instead, it's likely to come off as a bit of tongue-in-cheek anti-art sarcasm.

An advertising graphic from Timur Si-Qin's New Peace protocol. Courtesy  the artist,  Société , an d .

An advertising graphic from Timur Si-Qin's New Peace protocol. Courtesy the artist, Société, and

Artist Timur Si-Qin rebrands faith for a new era. Timur Si-Qin is a house favorite around this office, probably the smartest artist dealing with the concept of branding on a conceptual level. He's been known to make some pretty controversial statements ("capitalism doesn't exist"), but his new exhibitions in Berlin and Milan are all about optimism and building a new world: he's created an advertising campaign for a "new protocol," a new understanding of our place in the cosmos. "A radically inclusive, secular faith of the real, forwarding a belief in the true infinite creativity of pattern, matter, and energy." Societe and Spazio Maiocchi

Shayne Oliver makes art bags for Longchamp, art shirts for Helmut Lang. Erstwhile Hood by Air mastermind Shayne Oliver has released images of the crossover bags he designed for Longchamp, and it's clear that his position in the collaboration is that of a commissioned artist more than a cosign celebrity, brand collaborator, or even guest designer. (It's conceptual: he's branded everything with "Hiatus" and "Realness," a line drawn through the latter.) Oliver's capsule collection for Helmut Lang is also hitting the streets right now. Following Virgil Abloh's gallery solo show, it's interesting to see the calculus shifting in how these figures are treated by the brands they work with: they're going from creative direction towards artistic takeovers. Highsnobiety
Gucci's ArtLab doesn't seem to involve art. With all eyes on Milan this week, Gucci has announced the launch of its ArtLab in Florence. But, aside from murals on the facade of the building, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with any art. As per the presser: the ArtLab will "give life to the revolutionary aesthetic of Creative Director Alessandro Michele by developing the sought-after Gucci products of the future, and thus help sustain the exceptional business momentum of the brand." A product development facility presented as an artists' studio? Perhaps we should count this one as a third entry in the micro-trend of creative directors positioning themselves as artistsHypebeast

When Artists do the Heavy Lifting

Yuri Ancarani shot Maurizio Cattelan organizing an exhibition for Gucci.
The exhibition will take place in Shanghai in October and will be about copying, in collaboration with Alessandro Michele. The video is on Nowness and is mostly Cattelan sleeping on a train. i-D

Uniqlo commissions sculpture from Solange.
Talk about blurring the boundaries of authorship and celebrity amplification. Solange and agency Droga 5 are credited for the overall project, but there are also complex choreography and sculpture elements contributed by other artists. Fast Company

RYSE Hotel opens in Seoul.
Marriott-backed property involves creative direction from indie publisher Jason Schlabach, who has tapped artists including Laurent Segretier to produce artist suites for the business hotel. Instagram

Sahra Motalebi and Rafael de Cárdenas for Visionaire and Cadillac.
The artist was responsible for a musical score and the architect was responsible for four rooms. Interesting tendency towards lesser-known artists employed for high-concept ideas paired with high-profile names in other categories right now. Wallpaper

Chris Lee announces Shanghai art show.
The alternative pop star and PC Music collaborator has teamed up with hyphenate creative director Deng Li on a new studio and media outlet called XER. We'll report back in two weeks. Facebook

Dozie Kanu designs art-furniture for Rimowa.
They're minimal, conceptual objects on which luggage might perch. The Kaleidoscope-produced video is worth the time. Kaleidoscope

Ullens Center for Contemporary Art x Huawei.
Chinese tech company Huawei commissioned UCCA, the country's leading art museum, to organize an exhibition to launch a new phone. Surprising precedent for museums signing on to off-site sponsorship deals. Great new media installation work by Wang Newone. YouTube