Interviews
Takashi Murakami
Artist
GARAGE MCA

2017 was a massive year for you, especially with your record-breaking MCA Chicago exhibit. What has been the most challenging endeavor for you?

The biggest challenge has been the confusion that comes from being chased every day by various deadlines that greatly differ in nature from one another.

You’ve collaborated with BBC this year and even got a custom outfit from Samuel Ross of A-COLD-WALL*. What are some of the biggest issues with artists collaborating with fashion brands? What are your thoughts on the current state of fashion, especially with streetwear taking over the industry?

As you all may already know, I am not a person that understands and enjoys fashion. Since I began to do work in fashion after my collaboration with Louis Vuitton, I learned to comprehend the context of fashion in order to make judgments and decisions about the work in front of me. Yet I still find the world of Paris collections and the likes very difficult to navigate even after all these years.

When it comes to street culture, however, my understanding of it comes from real life experience. The Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaboration came to me as a great shock. In a time where Paris collections and skateboard culture have become one, I have a feeling that we are in an explosive situation where anything can happen. In light of this, I feel that the distance between me and fashion has also been reduced, and as such, I may even be able to start enjoying fashion in a leisurely way myself.

Which brand do you see yourself collaborating with next?

I would like to do a long-term and large-scale collaboration like the adidas collaboration with Kanye West. I find Kanye's trajectory in collaboration, from the falling out with Nike to the partnership with adidas, quite revelatory. It became clear that a long and sustainable collaboration would not be feasible without first establishing a valid business relationship between the creator (i.e. Kanye West) and the maker (i.e. Nike, adidas). Up until recently, the modus operandi was for the maker to merely capitalize on the motivation of the creator and downplay the importance of the business side.

I feel that it would be increasingly important and necessary for the maker to clearly explain to the creator the inner workings of the business side, such as numbers, brand shares, etc. Currently, lawyers are taking up that role––a situation that causes unfavorable results such as a financial war of attrition to pay the legal fees, which very often obstructs the creative aspects of the project. Going forward, for those makers that aspire to make better collaborations to take place, they will need to create separate departments devoted to creative communications and get closer to the creators in various ways.

From launching a Facebook Messenger Frames app to your first retrospective in Russia at the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, what are some of the major ways you're pushing the boundaries of your artwork? How do you keep up with your various creative pursuits?

The needs of the society surrounding art have been changing. A great deal of information can be accessed on websites and even information on contemporary art can be accessed with ease, thus further expanding the horizon of comprehension. Given this, more and more emphasis has been placed on the realm of entertainment: tools to get closer to the audience are being developed and teams in charge of the same function are being formed. Russia's Garage Museum of Contemporary Art has very specialized teams and they have a lot of people in their communication team. Anton Belov, the museum's director, has a very unique vision for the future of the museum and so it was very exciting to collaborate with him. The museum helped in expanding the zone of communication for me as a creator to amuse the audience. In this process, more and more ideas came up and I was able to realize them with their support. I am merely clinging on so as not to be swept away by the tide.

What are your short-term and long-term goals for your artwork, and personally?

My goal is to create works of longevity.

 
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