Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nike Park Tokyo Controversy

This is just another flagrant example of corporate desires trumping the needs of the residents of our great metropolises. It is one thing to allow our private/public institutions, like sports stadiums, to be renamed and thus branded by corporate iconography. Its another thing to imagine the last vestiges of our public environment being coded by corporate identity and therefore made to conform to the usage that private institutions will require once their name is attached to such a space.

via Hypebeast by Eugene Kan on 9/18/08

In a move considered controversial by many, Nike Japan recently purchased the naming rights to a central park in Tokyo within the Shibuya business district. Originally named Miyashita Park, the run-down space was largely reserved for a small population of 34 homeless people. However with the transfer of rights to Nike to create Nike Park, the homeless people will be required to find a new space. Among Nike’s plans are to create a skate park with cafe which will require an entrance fee. Although allowing companies to buy the rights to certain landmarks is not uncommon in Japan, the eviction of a homeless community has raised questions regarding the power of the dollar and resulted in the “Keep it Miyashita” campaign. In addition commentary from local skater Daniel Pulvermacher over at his blog YWS outlines the pros/cons of this move by Nike.

Source: YWS, The Observers, Global Voices

See more at Nike Park Tokyo Controversy

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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I was originally made aware of this debacle on July 25th when an article in AM NY caught my attention.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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Friday, July 25, 2008

Metro NY 07-25-08 Central Park Ads

I woke up early this morning to get to work and found this article in AM NY being passed to me by an unassuming young gentleman at 14th st. This was obviously of concern to me because the marketing of any commercial products within the NYC parks department system is a severe loss of public control over public space. NYC parks have been co-operated by private park conservancy groups as a way for neighborhoods and businesses to control the conditions of select NYC recreational facilities within their area. These few and far between moments of rest in the commercial hum of NYC have long been off limits to advertising. Until April 2006, the amount of money that could be made by park conservancies (private organizations put in charge of running most parks in the city these days) was limited to an amount not worth the conservancies troubles. A new contract was reached with the city allowing unlimited profits on commercial endeavors that made it worth the backlash in public opinion. The result is a million dollar contract between the Central Park Conservancy, NYC, and Chanel clothing, which will allow a commercial "art" project based on Chanel bags to run for 3 weeks in the center of Central Park. This is yet another example of why the private public partnership is so troublesome.

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