Brand spank

Rabbit

Photographic print 100cm x 100 cm

The artwork looks at appropriation due to inequality and the associated construct of legal ownership. Through my travels off the beaten track I often came across items of clothing, shoes and other goods made locally bearing a western brand. Many of the brands were used out of context. Brands normally associated with adult cloths or sportswear mixed with local motifs to create a new context for the logo. This is not counterfeiting, this was the appropriation of a brand as a pure symbol striped of its synthetic values and normal consumer context. The construct of copyright did not matter as the logo was given life in completely new reality. It is used in a manner similar to archaic religious or cultural symbol as there is no need to worry about copyright or original meaning and therefore everyone has their own assumptions and interpretation of the symbol.

As shown in the image above, the “playboy” logo used on the children’s sandals was a great example of appropriation and interpretation of a brand outside its normal context. As rabbits are used so widely as a toy and therefore seen as cute and cuddly it seem logical to place such an image on a child’s shoe. Whoever made these shoes probably did not know of the true context of this particular rabbit and of the sexualised connotations of the “playboy” logo.

The brand becomes akin to an exclusive religion that is only accessible to particular markets. It is the inequality of shutting a group of people from accessing something that leads them to appropriating it by any means necessary. The problem for many brands is that information relating to it is not restricted to particular markets. In these situations the people using the brand are not restricted to the normal rules of use and market etiquette. Therefore the brand is stripped of its normal operating values (colour, size, shape, proportion associated text, brand values and imagery). The brand is twisted beyond its normal market values and thus become amorphous.

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