<body> Public Ad Campaign: NYT: Coming to Central Park - A 7,500-Square-Foot Mobile Chanel Ad With an Artistic Mission
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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NYT: Coming to Central Park - A 7,500-Square-Foot Mobile Chanel Ad With an Artistic Mission

I was originally made aware of this debacle on July 25th when an article in AM NY caught my attention. Now it seems the NY Times is putting in their two cents on the 7,500 square foot advertisement for Chanel to be located in Central Park. (article)

Steve Lambert of the Anti-Advertising Agency made some very interesting comments about the article that are worth repeating for lack of better thought on my part.

VIA-Anti-Advertising Agency

Basically Chanel is renting out Central Park for millions of dollars to install a temporary exhibition (the structure is in the photograph above) of artist responses to their handbags called “Mobile Art.” Including the word art in the title is evidence of a defensive posture – Central Park doesn’t have billboards in it for a reason.

The guise of art also enables the city to cite “precedents like Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s ‘Gates’… or the four waterfalls designed by the artist Olafur Eliasson” as if the Chanel promotion were in the same category. Sure cynics can say there’s not much difference between big business and blue chip artists, but to put individual artists in the same classification as a multi-billion dollar company employing nearly one thousand people and retail stores on six continents… is kind of overstating it.

Moving on.

Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy… and Mr. Benepe (Parks Commissioner) described Chanel’s donation as a windfall for the park. The money will go toward enhancing its horticulture, particularly in the area from 85th Street to the Harlem Meer.

Asked whether he anticipated criticism for allowing Chanel to advertise one of its products in the park, Mr. Benepe countered, “Everything has a sponsor.”

As we’ve discussed before, parks and city infrastructure are what government is for. (The lack of funding and related neglect is what brought about the non-profit Central Park Conservancy to begin with.) This is one of the reasons taxes are good! And why you should fight back when two-thirds of the corporations doing business in the United States don’t pay them. Otherwise we end up relying on a thousand points of light and a corporation on a white horse. When governments cut taxes and/or spend them on unnecessary wars we make shitty deals with corporations giving up the sacredness of our public parks in a desperate attempt to keep them around. That and bridges fail.

And what do we get when we resign ourselves to the statement, “everything has a sponsor”? Anne has written a whole book about it. Inauthentic culture.

“Artists in 17th-century Italy wouldn’t have been in business were it not for their patrons,” he added,

Really? Is that our standard? Our level of success is an over three hundred year old monarchy?

We can do better.

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