What Happens When a Cheap Ikea Print Gets Presented as Fine Art in a Museum

The enti­ty to whom Dutch group, Life­hunters, attrib­ut­es the muse­um qual­i­ty art­work in the video prank above doesn’t exist. The “famous” Swedish artist’s han­dle –IKE Andrews –is but a puck­ish ref­er­ence to IKEA, the pur­vey­or of the 10€ print (oh snap, it’s not even an orig­i­nal!) var­i­ous unnamed “art experts” are asked to eval­u­ate, hav­ing been led to believe it’s some­thing rare and won­der­ful. IKE Andrews’ fel­low fic­tion­al enti­ty, Borat, would be grat­i­fied by how read­i­ly these experts accept pre­sen­ter Boris Lange’s sug­ges­tions as to the val­ue of this work.

So how bad is this “paint­ing”? Wal­ter Keane bad? Mar­garet Keane bad? Is it a Velvis? A sad clown? The sort of crum­my land­scape artist Wayne White might snap up in a thrift store?

Only if you think IKEA achieved glob­al dom­i­nance by choos­ing designs, pat­terns, and images in order for snot­ty hip­sters to buy them iron­i­cal­ly…

As sev­er­al YouTube, Twit­ter, and blog com­menters have men­tioned, the print itself is pret­ty cool.

It’s a media fren­zy, but inter­est­ing­ly, the artist is not com­ing for­ward to her­ald his or her role in the hoax.

Make that artists. Turns out IKE Andrews is a pair of Swiss street artists, Chris­t­ian Rebec­chi and Pablo Tog­ni, who col­lab­o­rate as NEVERCREW.

They have a fas­ci­na­tion with cross sec­tions. As their web­site some­what murk­i­ly explains [all sic]:

These mod­els, as such, from time to time actu­al­ly con­tain more or less exten­sive real­i­ties, rep­re­sent­ed as autonomous sys­tems of which the real­i­ty of the view­er becomes a part. This then the rap­port becomes the very sub­ject, main­ly high­light­ed as the rela­tion­ship between man and nature (between human being and its nature), but auto­mat­i­cal­ly extend­ed to a vision of total and inevitable rela­tion­ship between every­thing, between every part, where it is only the point of view, the posi­tion with­in a sys­tem, to define a selec­tion.

IKEA stream­lines the artists’ phi­los­o­phy for the mass­es thus­ly:

We call the theme “liv­ing struc­tures” and we like to see them as mod­els of liv­ing sys­tems. We would like our art to gen­er­ate inter­est and curios­i­ty, and the view­er to become a part of the mech­a­nism with his or her thoughts, per­spec­tive and emo­tions.



Philosophy’s all well and good, but what’s it actu­al­ly look like, this “Mes­sage in a Bot­tle”?

Well, it seems to me to be a bot­tle, implau­si­bly halved length­wise to reveal a bunch of steam­punk stuff bal­anced atop robot spi­der legs, form­ing a cage around an ancient-look­ing whale. Also, a cloud rain­ing yel­low liq­uid, or pos­si­bly light. (Hope­ful­ly the lat­ter). Oh! And it appears to have been paint­ed on a brown paper bag.

I can think of plen­ty of peo­ple who’d not only like it, but find mean­ing in it, as the experts do. The only dif­fer­ence is the experts do so on cam­era, a fact not all of them are will­ing to laugh at, when host Lange informs them they’ve been punked.

The artists aren’t the only ones play­ing it cool. The inter­net may be explod­ing, but so far, nei­ther IKEA, nor the Nether­lands’ Arn­hem Muse­um, where the prank was staged, have made men­tion of this busi­ness.

via Hyper­al­ler­gic

Relat­ed Con­tent:

F for Fake: Orson Welles’ Short Film & Trail­er That Was Nev­er Released in Amer­i­ca

The Great Dr. Fox Lec­ture: A Vin­tage Aca­d­e­m­ic Hoax (1970)

How the “Paul McCart­ney is Dead” Hoax Start­ed at an Amer­i­can Col­lege News­pa­per and Went Viral (1969)

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, and moth­er of a teen film­mak­er whose best known work was shot guer­ril­la style in a Red Hook, Brook­lyn Ikea. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday

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Comments (3)
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  • Konstantinevich says:

    That’s a cool paint­ing. It’s an old, sad-look­ing whale, a mem­ber of a mag­nif­i­cent and intel­li­gent mam­malian species, in side a bot­tle, of all things. A whale should of course be in an ocean, but this one is in a bot­tle. The whale is con­fined, cramped and incar­cer­at­ed, ridicu­lous­ly, in a man­u­fac­tured object. It’s also being grasped, or perh­pas per­ma­nent­ly fon­dled, by a com­plex of mech­a­nisms that serves some uniden­ti­fi­able pur­pose (or maybe none at all). The machine is bro­ken, pos­si­bly, because it’s let­ting water escape, at such a rate that seems like­ly to soon parch the whale. Dirty look­ing clouds iron­i­cal­ly are putting forth fake-look­ing light. A lone can­dle sits out­side the mad world of the recep­ta­cle, unlit. Would its light be of any use? Do sin­gle, sin­gu­lar, indi­vid­u­als out­side the sys­tem enlight­ens those with­in it? We can only hope.

  • Elise says:


  • Hannah says:

    This is an amaz­ing paint­ing. Art in any form is appre­ci­at­ed. A lay­man can also learn the art of paint­ing by flow­ing guide­lines and using kits. One such beau­ti­ful art is 5D paint­ing which can be eas­i­ly learnt by var­i­ous kits avail­able for it in the mar­ket.

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