batta mon exhibition at kyoto fashion museum, earlier this year
batta mon returns works of mitsuhiro okamoto
on show at CAS, in osaka, japan
november 6 – 27, 2010
‘batta mon’ is a series of controversial art works designed after locusts, which are displayed at an osaka gallery
after being removed from the kobe fashion museum in response to protests from louis vuitton that a few of the art
works contain its brand logo.
kyoto-based artist mitsuhiro okamoto created nine locust sculptures out of fake designer bags – the works were
meant to raise questions about the relationship between authenticity and imitation in a consumer-driven society.
‘battamon’ is a a play on the words ‘batta’, meaning locust, and ‘batta mon’, slang for knockoff.
the previous exhibition at kobe fashio museum (that kicked off on april 15) showed 9 locusts made from fake
merchandise bearing the logos of top brands such as louis vuitton, chanel, gucci and fendi, and which were
removed from the exhibit after the museum received a letter from the LV fashion house, claiming that the works
damaged the image of their luxury items because they incorporated material from counterfeit products.
‘we had no intention of recommending counterfeit brand-name products at all. we removed the works because
LV expressed displeasure at them‘, a city official said. ‘it was an appropriate decision as a public art museum is
supposed to be neutral‘.
with this second exhibition, okamoto wants to take this opportunity to discuss the protection of brand images
and freedom of expression. ‘sophisticated fake products that are indistinguishable from genuine ones are widespread.
that no one can tell whether the materials used for my works are genuine is part of what I wanted to express through
my works‘, he said.
‘laws regulate commercial products. under the current situation, battamon works can’t be recognized as commercial
products, and the display of the works can’t be deemed illegal‘, said patent attorney seiji ota. ‘however, they could
be regarded as commercial products depending on circumstances, such as whether they will be traded.
experts would be divided over the issue‘.
lawyer tasuku mizuno, co-leader of the nonprofit organization (NPO) arts and law that extends legal support to artists,
instead pointed out that the removal of okamoto’s works from the exhibition in response to pressure from louis vuitton
japan was inappropriate. ‘public art museums should hold fair exhibitions from the viewpoint of freedom of expression
and citizens’ right to know. it’s a problem that the works were removed at the urging of a private company‘, he said.
in favor of free speech, the gallery space CAS in osaka decided to held a protest exhibition and on nov. 27, the last day
of the event, the organizer will hold a forum to discuss the pros and cons of the removal and the artistic value of the works.
curator: cudo takeshi
was born in kyoto, japan in 1968
1994 postgraduate studies of shiga university, master of education (art)
1994-96 art students league of new york
1997-99 CCA the center for contemporary Art – kitakyushu research program
2001-05 artist residence program in germany, spain, india and taiwan.
since 2007 he has been living and working in kyoto.