Nick Cave, Rob Pruitt, Studio Job, Ebony G. Patterson, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone of South Park Create Holiday Windows
BY KENNETH RICHARD
Windows are by their very nature transformative, offering viewers a means to see through something and gain understanding of the world an arms reach away. While most retailers use their holidays windows to simply promote key item messaging, the team at Barneys New York understands the true meaning of windows, transporting viewers to look not out but also in to reflect upon the true holiday spirit in all of us.
For Barneys New York 2016 holiday theme, that journey was reflective in the theme entitled: Love Peace Joy Project. A message of unity and warmth that in today’s chaotic global climate appears at the just the right time to remind us of the reasons for the holiday in the first place. To help build that story, Barneys Creative frontman, Dennis Freedman, enlisted a bevy of artistic talents for the holiday installations including visual and performance artist Nick Cave, contemporary artist Rob Pruitt, artist collective Studio Job, mixed media artist Ebony G. Patterson, and Trey Parker and Matt Stone of Comedy Central’s South Park.
The result is a program that reflects a contemplative brand in Barneys New York that is in tune with the times, diverse, multi-cultural and understands the holiday season is bigger than them. That point is exemplified in Artist Ebony G. Patterson’s “See Me” which speaks to the synergy between being seen and loved. However, a little less etherial and more self-depreciative and tongue-in-cheek is Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s South Park window in which the characters banter back and forth explaining that they wish their parents wouldn’t buy them “stupid clothes for Christmas.” Going on to share, “You know what is worse than clothes? Expensive clothes.” Nothing defines the merits of a brand more than it’s ability to laugh at itself.
Antwerp based Job Smeets, co-founder of Studio Job which developed the graphics, illustrative icons, wrapping paper, a gifting program and even a window of their own for the Love Peace Joy Project , was on-hand for Freeman’s unveiling of the holiday windows. Smeets was kind enough to sum up the evening best when The Impression asked him about the project.
I meet Dennis at a MET show and from the first moment we met we were friends. When things appear in friendship, the work is always amazing.
Jamaican-born artist Ebony G. Patterson brought her bright and highly-adorned mixed media to the new Downtown flagship on 7th Avenue in Chelsea. In her Love themed collaboration with Barneys New York, Patterson highlights the idea that “to love someone, you have to be able to see them. To give compassion, one has to give acknowledgement.” Patterson and Barneys New York captured videos of 15 native Jamaican adults and children, reciting the phrase, “See me”, which were projected onto various mannequins faces. “I think it is extremely thoughtful when a retail entity doesn’t just engage customers in a commercial way, but they’re also interested in challenging their customers,” Patterson said.
Barneys New York collaborated with Trey Parker and Matt Stone of Comedy Central’s South Park to design a visual homage to the iconic show in celebration of its 20th Anniversary season in the southern window on Madison Avenue. Using a composition created by Stone and Parker exclusively for this project, three-dimensional versions of Stan, Cartman, Kyle, Kenny, and some of the other iconic characters talk amongst themselves while eagerly gazing through a mini holiday window display within the Barneys New York window. These three-dimensional forms are brought to life using 3D projection mapping by Christie, which animates their faces and allows them to engage with one another within the window. The window celebrates traditional holiday sentiments in a manner that is true to Stone and Parker’s humorous and subversive tone.
“Because I’m such a fan of holiday windows, partnering with Barneys immediately made sense to me. I knew I wanted to do something that had different layers and depth to it,” described Parker. “In the show, the jokes come first, but making a window is like creating a work of art. I’m really excited that this is something from South Park that I can actually show my daughter.”
Chicago-based visual and performance artist Nick Cave created a site-specific installation expressing Cave’s theme of Peace. The window contains two main sculptures, each comprised of a second skin designed to conceal race, gender, and class, forcing the viewer to engage without judgment. On the right, an elaborate one-of-a-kind Soundsuit, one of Cave’s signature sculptural works, is comprised of eight individual and elaborate objects. On the left, a second form sits elevated in lotus pose behind one of Cave’s integrated headpieces, acting as both a collective funnel and filter for the energies, experiences and opportunities of the outside world. This headpiece is comprised of multi-colored wire mesh and bugle beads, and slowly rotates clockwise within the window, while the figure itself is entirely hand covered in buttons. Select Barneys New York stores will also carry Cave’s SoundsuitShop branded line of products as part of this collaboration, including temporary tattoos, a water bottle, scarves, books, and more.
“A Soundsuit conceals an individual’s race, gender and class forcing you to look at it without judgment. When we release ourselves of societal categories and boundaries we can more easily connect universally through Love, Peace, and Joy,” said Cave. “We need, as a nation, as a world, and as a collective whole, to come together as one.”
Renowned contemporary artist Rob Pruitt gave pedestrians a tongue-in-cheek look into the Love themed bedroom of a cardboard monster couple. Using classic motifs for which the artist is known – including gradient paintings, pandas, and cardboard monsters – Pruitt’s voice adds a level of wit and humor to this private family moment in the northern Madison Avenue window. An homage to the iconic Love scene in “From Here to Eternity” plays on a loop on the chrome TV at the foot of the couple’s mechanical bed. The backdrop of the couple’s bedroom features a kinetic LED degrede wall, which shifts gradient through the full spectrum, while Hokusai-style waves move using old school theatrics, representative of Pruitt’s use of simple materials to make fine art. This is Pruitt’s third partnership with Barneys.
“I’m a huge fan of the rich tradition of holiday window culture in New York, and I’m excited to contribute to that history with Barneys New York,” said Pruitt. “From the first day I walked into their workshop, I knew anything I imagined would be well engineered and produced by the Barneys New York team.”
For the southern downtown window, Barneys New York partnered with We Are Prism, Elliot Kealoha Blanchard’s award-winning design and animation studio, to create a custom video representing Love, Peace, and Joy. Bright kaleidoscopic colors, animation and abstracted video footage will be incorporated to create a visual style piece representative of the joyful holiday season. The video will be displayed on two 80 inch screens playing the film on a staggered loop, accompanied by an original track by Honnda, a Brooklyn-based video and audio artist.
Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel of Studio Job focused on Love as their theme, Studio Job took inspiration from the iconic 1970s TV show “The Love Boat,” and created an extravagant 7 foot boat comprised of dozens of hand-crafted parts. Partnering with We Are Prism, videos in James Bond-style silhouettes of people kissing – alternating between two men, a man and woman, and two women – are projected onto the boat to highlight Love. Drawing from ideas of Dadaism and Surrealism, Studio Job and Barneys New York encompassed kinetic claws pinching, arms rowing, keys turning, and gears moving all in unison. Additionally, viewers can identify a rabbit, neon rainbow, lips, fish, and more throughout the rest of the boat, all hand-painted in a joyful rainbow of colors. Five bronze pieces of fine art from the Studio Job Gallery will be available for sale in the Barneys New York Madison Avenue flagship, including a Steve McQueen Porsche, a diamond, a nose, a spoon door knocker, and a stamp-shaped mirror.
In addition to the window, Studio Job also designed Barneys New York Love Peace Joy Project signature graphic that is used throughout the holiday project. Drawing from the motifs of the overall campaign, Studio Job created a pattern comprised of peace signs, smiling lips, rainbows, doves, roses, and sunshine in a myriad of bright colors. This graphic will be used in all Barneys New York flagship locations for windows, in-store visual displays, holiday product, and hangtags on Barneys New York shopping bags. Product incorporating this logo includes placemats, coasters, ornaments, patches, children’s t shirts, puzzles, and more.
“From the moment Nynke and I met the Barneys team, we knew we had an artistic connection with the brand,” said Smeets. “Their rule-breaking creative vision allowed us to be as bold and quirky as we could be with this project, which made the whole process an absolute pleasure. Since we created this window with the upcoming election in mind, the theme of Love, Peace, Joy feels especially relevant because it evokes a sense of socio-cultural utopia, a harmonious world devoid of conflict.”