Chanel in Central Park
Marc, Sheri and I all attended the Chanel Mobile Art exhibit in Central Park this past weekend. To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had heard more buzz about the structure (a Zaha Hadid “mobile gallery”) than the exhibition itself. Though not all of us agreed, I thought it was an interesting experience and a unique way to view art. On a whole, it seemed to fall somewhere between attending an exhibition at gallery in Chelsea, and attending a red carpet event.
Let me start by saying that the entire experience was very controlled. Tickets for the exhibition went on sale a couple months back. If you weren’t in the know, you probably missed out on the opportunity, as tickets sold out within 36 hours. The tickets themselves were free, and issued you a specific time that you were to show up at the exhibition. The entire event was high security. You couldn’t even get in to view the structure without tickets. Once inside, you were instructed to wait behind a guarded velvet rope until you were escorted inside.
Once inside, the exhibition was definitely unlike any other that I’ve attended. It was strictly controlled, but I enjoyed it (and this is where I vary from my peers). An attendant (Chanel-bot) individually applied headphones with an mp3 player to each person. We were instructed not to touch the player, and that we would hear the narrator instruct us on what to do at every moment. The Chanel-bots told me that this was both to maximize the artistic experience and to control the flow of people, so it always felt like an intimate gathering, rather than a pushy crowd gathering around a piece.
Soon enough, a narrator (the distinct voice of French actress Jean Moreau) came accross the airwaves and instructed me to stand up and head into the exhibit. The narrator was part of the exhibit itself, guiding the visitor through the experiences, interjecting with stories and commentary, encouraging the visitor to experience every piece, and asking questions to help the viewer relate the experience to his/her own life.
The exhibition consisted of several different pieces of art (some which were better than others). The inspiration for each of the pieces was the classic Chanel quilted bag, but in a far more abstract way than I had anticipated. For some of the pieces, it was nearly impossible to relate the piece to the bag. For others it became more about the culture of women and bags.
Overall, I think I enjoyed the experience of the exhibition more than the pieces themselves. I was happy to see, though, that it was not an “homage” to the quilted bag, and at times the art seemed to poke fun at this culture of a bag as a status symbol. Regardless, it was quite an expensive publicity stunt. But I guess with the bags selling for over $2000 each, you really only have to inspire 500 or so ladies to buy one to pay for its 3-week gig in New York.
Unfortunately Sunday was the last day for the exhibition in New York. For our friends in London, it’s headed your way next!