In a transparent effort, Swedish retailer COS recruited “Beautiful Losers” director Aaron Rose to create a short film exploring creativity in New York and Los Angeles. It’s full of familiar faces including Petra Collins, Jeffrey Deitch, Chloe Wise and DJ Nelleke.
Inspired by beatnik Robert Frank’s “Pull My Daisy”, the short depicts a tired romanticization of what it is to be an artist, and the superior noble position within society that title holds. The three minute film is set to Leo Fitzpatrick of KIDS reading Rudyard Kipling’s poem “Conundrums of the Workshop”, a poem challenging the disparity between high and low art and who gets to decide. The choice follows in line with Rose’s idealistic Beuys-esque notion that anyone can be an artist.
This message feels obliviously futile when set to the visuals of an elite gathering of young topical New York artists congregating in what appears to be some cross between a play date and a rave. It is an advertisement, an evident attempt to sell the mythical artist lifestyle alongside their typical retail product. There’s an implicit assumption by consumers that they too can become navigators of life, dispensers of creativity and insight if they wear this brand. It is typical co-opting of creative subculture for capitalist gains – the exact opposite of the supposedly transcendent lifestyle these featured artists lead.
Rose, of late 90’s underground fame, was instrumental in bringing skater/punk/fanzine west coast culture from relative obscurity to institutional recognition. His history with prominent subcultures affiliates him with an undeniable indie-cred which COS seems eager to associate with their unremarkable product. It may be naïve to dream of a world in which art and commerce are not so inextricably linked, but must we live in a world in which that link is so blatant? All in all, while adequately shot, and momentarily uplifting, this “film” has no more substance than Matthew McConaughey’s disconcerting ads for Lincoln.
By Jessica Baldanza
Jessica Baldanza is a writer and artist working in Toronto.