Zaha Hadid / Mobile Chanel Pavilion in the Park

So, eh, I thought it was actually pretty pretentious to be honest. (Come back, Louise Bourgeois!)

Once inside, they took all of your belongings (you had to check even your jackets and bags, so no cell phones or anything capable of recording), and gave you a set of headphones. Because each room is so small, you have to wait until Jeanne Moreau’s sexy deep-throated voice tells you you may advance. So, you may end up spending a lot of time in a room whose art you may be all that taken with…

First room had some “chandelier”- looking pieces of mobile art hanging from the ceiling that appeared to be made of plastic Christmas-tree-like ornaments, second room a big pit / bowl over whose sides you peered down into only to see some black and white images of leaves and vertebrae and butterflies and such projected onto the bowl’s sides sliding down into oblivion.

The third room was my favorite of the whole exhibit. It was by artist Leandro Erlich from Argentina. You walked through these curtains and sat on a bench and looked across at a wall. Almost the entire wall was obscured by a big black curtain. You were to focus on the bottom, where there was a glass floor, covered with what appeared to be fake mud and dirt. Strategically-placed water appeared to be puddles. Underneath the glass was a really quaint row of 19th Century, Parisian-looking apartment buildings. I thought it was cool because in the previous exhibit it appeared you were in the sky, above the clouds, watching items float down to earth. This one seemed to continue with that theme, except here you were on earth, stepping on all its mud and grime, and the city seemed to be below you. And yet the beautiful city was actually more pristine, not affected by the mud and grime of earth. But then Jeanne Moreau said something about reflections being truer than reality to her, so I figured we were supposed to feel we were seeing a reflection; we were not atop the city after all. Anyway, at one point, the ceiling lights dimmed. The little windows of the buildings lit up, like someone was inside, turning them on for nighttime. Sweet. At the end, the lights in the little windows spelled the Chanel logo. I thought, ew, how crass, you just ruined it! Then I thought, well, maybe the artist wanted you to question our consumerism, obsession with brands and conspicuous consumption. But then I thought, well, since the exhibit was commissioned by Karl Lagerfield / Chanel, no, they’re probably trying to get you to rejoice in that not question it.

Anyway, then we walked into a room showing a film projected onto a wall with a bunch of naked Asian women rolling around in Chanel jewelry. After that was another interesting exhibit – -my second favorite, by an artistic group from Russia known as Blue Noses. You looked down into these big boxes, opened like someone was getting ready to pack for moving — and projected on the bottom were these films of obese naked women running down the street chasing a red Chanel bag being pulled by an invisible hand. It was a ridiculous sight — I’m sure the artists were questioning consumerism here, right, how could they not be… But interesting thing was that the ambient sound for this one was Swan Lake music, interspersed with the sounds of cars and other street noises.

Then, there was a room with some disturbing pictures by American David Levinthal of naked women wearing gas masks, but the masks looked like they were made out of skin, out of the women’s very flesh. In this exhibit, Jeanne Moreau kept saying things like this is my skin, my flesh that I wear, or something or other. I’d have written things down if they’d have let us bring something inside to write with. Actually, I think it was Moreau’s voice and the rather goofy things she was saying (that were supposed to be taken seriously) that made me think the exhibit overall was pretentious. Because the art in itself … much of it was really pretty good — visually arresting and thought-provoking.

There were a few other rooms bearing things like a set of furniture, all items of which appeared to be made from Chanel bag material. A final room was kind of funny. There was a giant Chanel lipstick case inside of which was a giant powder compact, which was opened, and on the compact’s mirror played a film of some women with machine guns at target practice. They were shooting Chanel bags quite to pieces. A voice-over was saying something like “and you said you were pregnant?”
The pavilion is only in NY through next week, then will travel. Go here for more info. Here are some pics by Coolhunter of the inside, though they don’t have any of the exhibits I liked.

Here are some pictures I took of the outside.

Here, am exhibiting herd mentality by doing as everyone before me did while waiting in line: taking a picture when I got up to this lighter sheet of mirrored window surrounding this building outside the pavilion. I’m not even sure what that building was, now that I think about it…

Lovely fall day in Central Park.

Anyway, on the subject of architecture, check out David Hallberg’s pics of this awesome Frank Gehry building at Bard College. It’s like an ultra-modern thatched roof house. I love it! I’m also jealous his fall pictures turned out better than mine…

On an unrelated note, my Explore Dance reviews of the Dance Times Square showcase and ABT’s opening night gala performance are now up.


  1. Hm, pretty odd… art commissioned by Karl Lagerfeld, which is a little more than a disguised ad? Funny how you actually thought the message was anti-Chanel, but considering who commissioned it, changed your view. Anyways, great writeup – fall is lovely in Central Park! Now that’s art I can live with. 😉

  2. Thanks Jolene! Yeah, I also read something (and now can’t find where) saying that the exhibition was also supposed to make us think about the role corporate funding plays in the arts. So, I’m thinking that at least some of the artists, and the exhibition’s curator, were really being more critical than I’d originally thought. Just because Chanel commissioned artwork doesn’t mean it can’t be critical of conspicuous consumerism. But the fact that who commissioned the art makes you stop and think about what the art is or isn’t saying seems to be part of the point of the exhibition! I’m liking this exhibit the more I learn and think about it…

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