Monday, May 18, 2009
Beamer me up, Scottie
This post was going to be about how I wasn’t too surprised about BMW ripping off the work of Aaron Young. Because surely I’m not so naïve as to think that this kind of thing doesn’t happen. Plus, because I’m so smart, I can tell the difference.
Young is best known for riding motorcycles on gallery floors leaving a trace of the movement. So it’s a tough(er) boy approach to action painting (Pollock, that gang). I like the looks of the raw version, but I’m not so keen on the glitzier one he organized for the Whitney Biennial in 2007 (image of both below).
But then I did some research on the campaign and now I feel a bit like throwing up and a bit like laughing. It started with the tag line, “Not all artists are depressed.” No, true. But I bet a lot of Beamer drivers these days are.
Then we learn that BMW has commissioned this artist from South Africa to drive paint-covered tires on paper (looks like Photoshop to me). Plus, the artist self-describes as a “revolutionary contemporary artist.” Why doesn’t he just call himself “fantastic person?” Did they just make this guy up for the campaign?
Gross-hilarious factor aside, I’m having a hard time really digesting that “success” and “recognition” entails a certain shallowness, a certain in-authenticity – and if it doesn’t, you’re still vulnerable to exploitation. What has me swallow is the realization that I’ve been wanting “success.” I (re)wonder.