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The Gucci Art Exhibition Asks "What Is A Fake Anyway"?

Oct 31, 2018 | 15:01 Wed
It’s been three years since Gucci’s last exhibition, “No Longer/Not Yet.” The theme of their latest exhibition, running until December 16 at the Yuz Museum, is “the copy is the original.” Bold statement, considering Gucci’s problems with the former. With the cooperation of Alessandro Michele (the current creative director of Gucci) and Maurizio Cattelan (the famous Italian artist), the exhibits aim to show guests some unexpected reproductions. Welcome to “The Artist Is Present”.

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The most instafamous exhibit is the model restroom. It’s clean, fully equipped – and completely off-limits to use. The rumors are someone may have violated the no-use policy, and considering how many people are at the exhibition, and how long they stay for, it seems at least possible that if someone didn’t use the restroom, then they at least waited in line – a real line – for a fake toilet. For a long time.

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This is not a urinal.


The fakery doesn’t stop there. Not only are the exhibits copied, even the name of the exhibition is taken from 2010’s “The Artist is Present” at MOMA, where the grandmother of performance art, Marina Abramovic, maintained unbroken eye-contact with 1,500 unfamiliar audience members. She’s not here, but a huge portrait of her is.

Maurizio Cattelan, the curator, also copied the Sistine Chapel in a one-to-six scale, and moved it into the center of the museum. It’s said that the size of the reproduction helps guests observe the details of the church more clearly than the original. In the traditional sense, you could say that this is a fake church, that it cannot be seen as an art piece, and it isn’t worth the price of admission.

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But as with many pieces of art, this “tiny” church is meant to provoke the viewer. This smaller version may not hold the grandeur and legacy of the original, but if it’s easier to see the details of Michelangelo work, isn’t that valuable? You could even see it as the artists extracting the essence and discarding the unnecessary elements. In that, doesn’t the reproduction of an art piece, the process itself, become a brand new creation?

What is a “copy,” after all? On the one hand, those “Gucci” bags you get in the fake markets can sometimes come from the factories that made the genuine product. Everyone has a story about a fake product that ended up being just as good and lasting just as long as the original. Here, then, a show that celebrates it.

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Gucci's "The Artist is Present" is open from October 11 to December 16, Tuesday to Sunday from 10am-9pm at the YUZ Museum. Tickets are 60rmb.

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