As Told To, by Item Idem
Published December 5, 2008
Digital rendering of Item Idem’s logo for Miami; Photo of Item Idem by Sebastian Mayer.
Item Idem (nee Cyril Duval) is an artist and a frequent collaborator with luxury brands including Comme Des Garcons, 3.1 Philip Lim, and Colette, but he is also a brand himself. For instance, he has called for international participation in Item Idem. He designed Bernhard Willhelm’s Tokyo boutique, which he filled with trash, and won the Great Indoors Award. In Miami, as part of Fredric Snitzer Gallery‘s “Death By Basel,” Item Idem constructed an oversized Chanel logo outside the gallery, elevated and on the scale of the McDonald’s arch. The exhibition opens tonight from 7–9 PM, and at 18 feet the artist says it will “shine like hell.”
In the artist’s own words, he introduces his work for Basel, and the melancholy of the McDonald’s Arch:
“Well, there are similarities between the shapes of the two logos, but it is probably their binary color code (black and white for Chanel; red and yellow for McDonald’s) that gives them most of their identity. Inverting these codes and comparing their markets raises a playful pitch on modern mass consumerism appeal, although I don’t intend it as an ironic comparison of the brands.
“I would like for the piece to function like a beacon, or a lighthouse, for communication between brands. But it’s of course a fantasy, because that’s not how brands work: One would love to see more of that type of style encounter, as the fashion world’s means of communication are sometimes much more aggressive than those of the food chain industry. This type of lightbox is, for me, one of the most radically intrusive forms of advertising, yet their lonely glowing gives them an almost mystical aspect. I am very sensible to such a ‘Mammon’ type of imagery, especially displayed here in Miami, right before Christmas, in the time of the ‘credit crunch.’
“It is about playing with environmental codes and providing an alternative. And Miami is a place notorious for its abundance of similar light signs. It enhance the absurdity, the melancholy of the work itself, perhaps like the pictures of Elmgreeen & Dragset’s ‘Prada Marfa’ alone in the desert.”