In today’s issue of the LA Times, Diane Haithman reports on MOCA’s decision to install a Louis Vuitton boutique as part of artist Takashi Murakami’s upcoming retrospective.
“People have touched base with the play between the commercial arena and high art, but this is a little more confrontational,” says MOCA Chief Curator Paul Schimmel. Haithman deems the plan “unorthodox” while assuring us that the museum will receive no profit whatsoever, neither from the sale of goods nor rental of the space.
Murakami has been collaborating with Vuitton for years (since 2003, in fact), and those who are familiar with his practice or have ever had a professional relationship with his workshop, Kaikai Kiki, know the drill: When Kaikai rolls into town, everyone’s getting the goods. The giving of gifts is as much part of Murakami’s own practice as it is a Japanese business tradition.
So why feign surprise or claim innovation on behalf of MOCA? At this point in the evolution of museum practices, the gift shop is as germane to the exhibition as the works themselves. To differentiate this particular store due to the price of its goods provides for a week argument, and to bitch and moan about capitalism is a worthless endeavor, too. Whether MOCA receives kickbacks from Vuitton or not, the spectacle of it all will yield a spike in public interest (i.e. visitation, i.e. admission fees, i.e. increased sales at the regular museum shop, too—think catalogues and t-shirts here, folks.) We know this. If anything, MOCA should be congratulated for its transparency.
All I can do is make a suggestion to all MOCA assistants: Take the perks where you can get them—Kaikai Kiki’s little stickers and postcards are just precious. And maybe if you’re lucky, Mr. Boss Man will even hand over a catalogue or two.
Image of this undoubtably fake Murakami Vuitton bag courtesy buychinawholesale.uk.com