Helmut Lang’s newest ad campaign for their paint-splatter-themed resort 2019 collection is accompanied by a short film created by Director Minnie Bennett, who enlisted Movement Director Ryan Mcnamara and Set Designer Kadu Lennox, and features the playwright and cast of Slave Play: Jeremy O’Harris, Ato Blankson-Wood, Amauta Martson-Firmino, Sullivan Jones, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, and Paul Alexander Nolan. Tei Shi, Charlene Khan, and Kate Lambert are featured in the piece as well, which was filmed on location at the New Museum in New York City.
The painter jean first appeared on the Helmut Lang runway in 1998, and it has since become a symbol for the company’s anti-authoritarian approach. Referencing the creative class and their ambivalence towards mainstream success, the painter jean was appropriated by Helmut Lang as a form of thoughtful rebellion. Minnie Bennett takes the concept a step further by presenting a pristine white environment filled with icons of Americana and Western Art, replacing the ubiquitous pair of jeans with televisions, a boom box, an easy chair, a teddy bear, and statues of a dog, penguin, and bust of Julius Cesar; these items are subjected to gleeful douses of house paint by Jeremy O’Harris and his band of revelers. Jackson Pollack’s splatter paint technique is re-appropriated in a cathartic explosion of color, as the formerly all-white objects of middle-class luxury, meant to symbolize the whitewashing of the arts and American history, are covered with splashes of red, white and blue.
The concept doesn’t translate directly to the resort 2019 collection, rather it is all loosely connected by the paint splatters in different shades of red, plus white and blue. Nonetheless, the film is compelling as documentation of politically-motivated performance art, and subsequently functions as a thought-provoking marketing tool.
Director | Minnie Bennett Talents | Jeremy O’Harris, ATO Blankson-Wood, Amauta Marston-Firmino, Sullivan Jones, Chalia La Tour, Irene Sofia Lucio, Tei Shei, Charlene Khan, Kate Lambert, & Paul Alexander Nolan Set Designer | Kadu Lennox Location | New Museum Movement Director | Ryan McNamara
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