Free Obama Toy (with a Catch)!

November 6, 2008

obamadoll had this ad up today. It’s funny enough on its own. Then I thought, there’s an even funnier role reversal here. Shouldn’t they be offering a free McCain doll with purchase of an Obama doll? I’m assuming that popular demand for the winner’s doll would be greater than that of the loser’s. I mean, generally, who pays for the loser’s memorabilia? (That’s akin to buying holiday decorations on the day after. What’s the point, right?)

Maybe Obama’s popularity is so strong right now that a free Obama toy WILL actually get someone to shell out the big bucks for a McCain doll?

Maybe there are some microtrend market studies out there that say more McCain supporters happen to be toy collectors as well. Or maybe more toy collectors happen to support McCain. Who knows.

Get yours while supplies last!


Chanel Mobile Art Container by Zaha Hadid Opens in Central Park

October 20, 2008

“Mobile Art”, a slick UFO-like exhibition space designed by architect Zaha Hadid and commissioned by Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, has arrived at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield (off Fifth Avenue and 69th Street). The traveling container for about 20 Chanel-inspired projects (very kindly misbilled as contemporary art installations — don’t be fooled: it’s corporate branding) by a rotating list of international producers will be open to the public from October 20 to November 9.

The promotional-spectacle-disguised-as-art container is on a two-year worldwide tour. Launched in Hong Kong in February 2008, it traveled to Tokyo before arriving in New York. In November, it continues onto London, then Moscow, and finally Paris in 2010. (These stops probably represent the fashion house’s most lucrative markets, yes?)

Adrian Benepe, NY’s Parks & Recreation Commissioner, is ever-eager to further the corporate takeover of public space, aka public-private partnerships:

Our partnership with Chanel continues the great tradition of bringing world class cultural offerings to New York City’s parks… Zaha Hadid’s traveling pavilion will place a futuristic work of architecture and outstanding works of contemporary art in an historic setting in the heart of Central Park. The contrast will be fantastic, melding the vision of one of the world’s most important fashion houses with the beauty of one of the world’s most significant works of landscape design.

Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s Fashion President, is ever-eager to equate the company’s products with art:

Mobile Art was conceived as a project that examines the relationship between contemporary art, fashion and architecture. The project pushes the boundaries of the Chanel aesthetic by joining these mediums and creating an innovative artistic experience. As envisioned by Karl Lagerfeld, the project explores the role fashion plays in the everyday life of women through symbolic evocations of the Chanel quilted handbag.

ACK. In the midst of today’s economy, this recalls Marie-Antoinette’s response when she was told that the French had no bread to eat: “Let Them Eat Cake!”

French Spiderman/Environmental Activist Becomes Paid Promoter

June 18, 2008

On June 5th, Alain Robert (aka French Spiderman) boldly scaled the 52-story New York Times building in Times Square to call attention to global warming. This afternoon, he climbed the 32-story Dresdner Bank building in Frankfurt.

robert dresdner

No environmental activism or political intervention behind today’s stunt, though. It’s all legal, secure (Robert wore a safety harness) — and paid for. His 40-minute climb was filmed for a German program called “Unglaublich!” (which NYT translates into “Unbelievable!”). This time, his call-to-action was replaced by a T-shirt with the name of the show.

Why do so many independent acts get turned into promotional vehicles or media opportunities? As our visual landscape gets more and more jampacked with promotional messages, corporations are always on the lookout for the next out-of-the-blue spectacle. And they’ve got the budgets to monetize these unusual acts.

Does everything and everyone ultimately have a price?

Photo: Arne Dedert/European Press in NYT

Disappearing Palestine: From Dunkin Donuts To Fulbrights

May 30, 2008

As the Bushites push Israel and Palestine into a peace treaty that would secure an official Palestinian state, we wonder how much of this is just for show (or some last ditch effort to salvage Dubya’s name in history books). Does the U.S.-Israel alliance really want to build a future for Palestine? Two events this week suggest otherwise.

In a highly-publicized move, Dunkin Donuts pulled an internet ad with celebrity chef Rachel Ray after ultra-right-winger Michelle Malkin criticized the scarf Ray was wearing. Malkin described it as a keffiyeh, which “for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad.” Malkin’s statement was a prime case of racial stereotyping, aka self-imposed ignorance. The shocker: Dunkin Donuts actually bowed to the racism and cancelled the ad. (This move is fueling other acts of self-censorship.)

Today, another important story hit the NYTimes: U.S. Withdraws Fulbright Grants to Gaza. This is an outrage:

The American State Department has withdrawn all Fulbright grants to Palestinian students in Gaza hoping to pursue advanced degrees at American institutions this fall because Israel has not granted them permission to leave.

Israel has isolated this coastal strip, which is run by the militant group Hamas. Given that policy, the United States Consulate in Jerusalem said the grant money had been “redirected” to students elsewhere out of concern that it would go to waste if the Palestinian students were forced to remain in Gaza.

These events frame a grim picture. While the Israeli occupation builds walls, settlements, and checkpoints to contain and isolate Palestinians, we are also witnessing the gradual elimination of Palestinian culture and its intellectual resources. In short, its past AND its future.

These reminded me of an important work by artist Emily Jacir. In 2001, she exhibited “Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages That Were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948″. The piece was a large burlap refugee tent. Onto its sides and roof, she penciled the names of 418 Palestinian villages that have disappeared. Then with the help of over 140 volunteers (many were Palestinians from these very villages or Israelis who had grown up on their remains), Jacir slowly stitched the names onto the tent as a collective act of remembrance.


It’s important to Jacir that people ask why they don’t recognize the villages’ names. “They have been erased from official Israeli history, a history that, in its expulsion of the Palestinians, repeats the act of dispossession”. The act of writing, stitching, and giving the piece the title, “Memorial to 418 Palestinian Villages That Were Destroyed, Depopulated and Occupied by Israel in 1948” reclaims the lost territory and deleted history.

60 years have passed. And the genocide continues.

Mona Lisa After One Week in the U.S.

May 29, 2008


P.S. Got these Mona Lisas in an email. Tried to look up the source, but couldn’t find. Feel free to comment if you know!

While we’re at it:

Taming the wild with Timotei styling mousse: an ad by JWT, Paris.


And another play on cultural icons: an ad for the German Olympic Sports Federation by Scholz & Friends in Hamburg.