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Luxury fashion and art have always been closely linked, but it isn’t always a happy marriage. Most artists don’t come from backgrounds of wealth, and have an uneasy relationship with the market and what it demands of their creative freedom. With this in mind, it’s not difficult to approach Gucci’s No Longer/Not Yet, an exhibition on the topic of ‘What is contemporary?’, with an air of trepidation.
So does the branding take a backseat? Sadly not. As soon as we entered the first room, we were bombarded with the Gucci brand, thanks to a dour collection of very carefully taken photographs of bored-looking people, behind the scenes at a Gucci fashion show, accompanied by display cases full of Gucci artifacts.
Despite this, there is some good work on display. Jenny Holzer made her name as an artist by using the form of the advertising slogan to insert phrases into public spaces in order to inspire thought and discourse. As good as the art is, it’s impossible to ignore the cognitive dissonance its presence in an exhibition designed as an advert for Gucci creates, thereby failing to be subversive.
The ‘standout’ work, however is cao fei’s ‘Rumba II: Nomad’: a round table, upon which moves an automatic vacuum cleaner, with a fake chicken perched atop it. On the floor below, more of the vacuum cleaners whirr back and forth on the carpet, which is modeled on a print from Gucci’s AW15 collection. crass, and total and utter nonsense, it serves as a perfect distillation of the exhibition as a whole. Unless you’re a Gucci diehard, save yourself 30RMB and go and sit on the grass in Red Town instead.