Art & Design

High Art Meets Fast Fashion: DISown’s Exhibition on New Consumerism

Art & Design

High Art Meets Fast Fashion: DISown’s Exhibition on New Consumerism


Chanel is now apparently a grocery manufacturer, but good luck finding the Kaiser’s line of eight-minute spaghetti at your local Whole Foods.

What you can do, though, is toss your mesclun in this Hood By Air salad bowl — one of the products from over 30 world-renowned artists on display March 6th through April 6th at Red Bull Studio New York.

Curated by art collective DIS and Agatha Wara, “DISown – Not For Everyone,” is an art exhibition posing as a retail store. Or maybe it’s a retail store posing as an art exhibition, as the press release contemplates. While artists’ names normally take on the characteristics of luxury brands and artworks act as high-end retail goods, the DISown artists aim to disrupt this by making the “belts and underwear” version of art, or the art version of Karl Lagerfeld for H&M/your local supermarket. Prices will range from $50 – $500 (with exceptions) and profits will be split between the artist and DIS.

Alongside the HBA bowl will feature lower-brow, consumer works from artists including Ryan TrecartinJon RafmanBjarne MelgaardAmalia UlmanK-HOLETelfar, and Korakrit Arunanondchai. 26-year-old jean genius Arunanondchai will debut a sweatsuit printed with the digitally distressed denim and photographic flame print from his ‘denim fire’ paintings.

We talked with Agatha about how the idea was born and what else we can expect to see on shelves.

What gave you idea the idea for the exhibition?
I’ve been interested in testing the bounds of the art object for a while now, and curated a project called Shell-Reflexive in 2012 that oscillated between a retail store and art exhibition. DIS who is conceiving of DISown as an ongoing retail platform, brought me in as co-curator to lend the project greater context, and to guest-edit an issue of which goes into the deeper implications of artists working within capitalist systems.

How many of each product has been created for the exhibit?
It really varies from artist to artist, for some there are just a few of the same item whereas others have a hundred or more.

How do the lectures, performances, and issue of the magazine compliment the show?
Every weekend we will have discussions and an array of other events alongside the exhibition–from product presentations, to discussions about fashion, capitalism, and philosophy, to a radio show, live DJ sets, artist performances, and cocktails. All of the products in DISown are attached to vibrant networks of multi-talented people who are extremely active outside of the products themselves. It just felt really natural to invite them into the store as a way a way to add this dimension to the products but also to in order to further the conversations that DISown is setting up. The issue of I have guest-edited will also dig into some of these issues and will go live on March 6.


What do you think when people say diffusion lines cheapen the original, high-end mainline?
I can’t speak to the fashion side of this, but when it comes to art, the idea of a “diffusion line” hasn’t really existed in a viable way– especially in a way that is impelled by and works to the advantage of artists. One could say that the postcard of the Monet painting you buy at the museum gift shop is art’s diffusion line, in the sense that the cheaper postcard “copy” strengthens the brand-recognition of “Monet.” And does this cheapen the Monet in the end? Probably not.

But the inner workings of Contemporary Art in terms of how value is accrued are much, much more complex than this. I can imagine that art is moving in a direction that wants to flirt with cheapening the original in order to inflect change in the “high-end mainline.”

In retail “new consumerism” can be positive, like with collaborative consumption and websites like Rent the Runway. Have you seen any similar trends in art?
It’s always really fun making parallels between art and fashion because some analogies work, while others fall completely apart. I think it’s really important to remember that “consumer”-anything is generally frowned upon in art. To a certain extent, art still functions on ideological divisions between art and business, or between public institutions and commercial art galleries. So art labors for an audience, whereas products labor for a consumer. If “new consumerism” is about a shift in consumer practice and attitude, for art this shift might have to involve a re-evaluation of the principles of art, its role in society, and the agency it lends to artists as well as the public’s.

What do you want people to take away from the exhibit, other than a salad bowl?
With such an amazing roster of artists and people involved I am certain that we will have many supporters stopping by the store. But I am really interested in the foot traffic. What will be the take-away for those with very little or no connection to the project? Apart from the shot of mood-lifting endorphins your body releases when supporting an artistic project, I guess I would welcome a healthy level of confusion mixed with the excitement in knowing that when you take home a salad bowl you are taking part in a cycle that is testing the limits of Contemporary Art.

“DISown – Not For Everyone” is open Saturdays and Sundays -12PM-8PM (March 6th – April 6th) at Red Bull Studios New York, w/live discussions and performances every weekend.

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