Branded and On Display
January 17—March 30, 2008
Ours is a culture defined by marketing
and acquiring. With one of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, a
compulsive shopper, this just may be part of the definition of being
American. Virtually every activity in our lives is experienced through
purchases, from layettes to caskets.
Branded and On
Display is the first
exhibition to examine the work of artists who explore this dominant
cultural phenomenon. The pioneering exhibition at Tate Liverpool and
Shirn Kunstalle Frankfurt,
Shopping: A Century of Art and Consumer and
Culture provided an
encyclopedic and historical survey of the subject considered in its
broadest terms. Branded and On
Display offers a focused
investigation of artwork that critically examines the practices and
manipulations of consumer exchanges. In a range of media (sculpture,
video, installation, sound, painting, photography) the work, including
some key historical Pop pieces, is compelling, provocative, funny,
nudging us to re-view our culture with an appraising eye.
This exhibition is organized by the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Participating Artists: Ai Weiwei, Siebren Versteeg, Michael Blum, Terence Gower, Clay Ketter, Haim Steinbach, Donna Nield, Conrad Bakker, Tempi + Wolf, Brian Ulrich, Ashley Bickerton, Hank Willis Thomas, Laurie Hogan, Amy Barkow, Yuken Teroya, Louis Cameron, Diller + Scofidio, Ryan McGinness, Phillipe Parreno & Pierre Huyghe, and Zhao Bandi. Click here for an illustrated checklist.
Exhibition Curators: Judith Hoos Fox and Ginger Gregg Duggan
Judith Hoos Fox is currently a visiting curator at the Krannert Art
Museum, after nineteen years at the Davis Museum and Cultural Center,
Wellesley College, and curatorial positions at the Museum of Art,
RISD; ICA Boston; and the Harvard University Art Museums. Her recent
projects include group exhibitions
OVER+OVER: A Passion for
Pattern Language: Clothing as
Ginger Gregg Duggan is an independent curator and founder of Remote
Control Curatorial, LLC. She has held curatorial posts at the
Bellevue Art Museum in Seattle and the Museum of Art in Fort
Lauderdale. Recent projects are
Fashion: The Greatest Show on
Earth, a major multimedia
exhibition on fashion shows as performance art, and
OVER + OVER: A Passion for
Process. Duggan teaches and
writes on contemporary art.
Children of the Brand
Daniel Thomas Cook
Branding, first and foremost, resides in the realm of design. It is the quintessential marriage of art and commerce, often inspired by aesthetic sensibility and intuition while being informed by market research. Branding does not arise from the impetus of making art for art’s sake and it does not seek to call out the critical, reflective capacities of its target audience. The purpose of branding generally is to nullify reflexive choice by fusing positive, affective associations between products or experiences and an audience. Brands – their iconography, acoustics, tastes, physical feelings, and smells – coax us to react but not to analyze.
Brands, brand “loyalty,” and branding represent a fusion of contemporary hyper-stylization with hyper-commercialism whereby every moment and element of life is to be infused not just with “style” or “beauty,” but with an emotional bonding to a corporate entity. At least, this is the dream of a brand manager. Art, in its most general sense, serves as an ideal vehicle for cathecting such attachments because it strikes us at a pre-analytical level. We experience it and react to it before we can reflect on it. This is the power of art and aesthetics, and hence the power of branding.