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Rolls-Royce brings elemental video installation to Art Basel

June 12, 2015

Rolls-Royce Art Basel commission Rolls-Royce Art Basel commission by Isaac Julien


Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is expanding its Art Programme at Art Basel June 16-17 with new work by artist Isaac Julien.

Mr. Julien was commissioned for "Stones Against Diamonds" by the automaker as part of its ongoing effort to engage emerging artists. The art and luxury markets rise at similar rates, since they cater to the same demographics, so Rolls-Royce's ramped-up alignment is an effective way to highlight its shared values with consumers.

"It was the breadth of Lina Bo Bardi’s creative impulse and egalitarian beauty of her work that moved me to develop a poetic homage on the art and life of Brazil’s most important woman architect," said Isaac Julien.

"Stones Against Diamonds is the beginning of my exploration of her emblematic architectural designs and innovative curatorial strategies that have inspired me following the centenary of her birth in 2014," he said.

Precious objects

Mr. Julien was inspired by a letter written by Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi in which she wrote about her preference for the elemental beauty of natural elements over precious stones. He wanted to explore the dichotomies, both objective and subjective, between stones and diamonds.

Lina Bo Bardi

Ms. Bardi in documentary "Lina Bo Bardi: Together"

Mr. Julien also wanted to rearrange, or upend, common assumptions about what is precious and what is not.

The film takes place is set around ice caves in southeast Iceland's remote Vatnajökull region. The crew spent five days in sub-zero temperature to glean the beauty of ice caves that are supposedly accessible for short periods each year.

What is normally considered forbidding is recast as serene, even transcendent, in the film.

Mr. Julien also wanted to make Ms. Bardi's inspiration tangible throughout, so the crew recreated a staircase of her design in the ice cave for the production. A larger version of the staircase was then built post-production and merged with the original using CGI.

The film also features easels made of glass and concrete, which are frequently found in Ms. Bardi's designs. Finally, the presentation of the film will be done in such a way to evoke Ms. Bardi's work.


Rolls Royce Phantom

Art Basel will be the first place where the fill is viewed aside from a small preview. Stones Against Diamonds foreshadows a larger piece that will be completed in 2016.

Rolls-Royce has worked with Mr. Julien before during Frieze Art Fair London in 2012.

Looking forward

Rolls-Royce has increased is collaborations with artists recently.

For instance, the automaker gathered work from 12 top artists that was featured alongside small replicas of the brand’s Ghost model for a exhibit and auction.

The proceeds of the auction went to benefit the Breast Cancer Care, and the general atmosphere of the display may have lead to outside donations. The brand’s attempt to bring in numerous parties to collaborate meant that a larger radius of people were affected (see story).

The automaker has also embraced its own artistic ingenuity.

Rolls-Royce responded to the enthusiasm following a behind-the-scenes documentary last year with an interactive, free exhibition that will travel to key cities throughout the world.

After the “Inside Rolls-Royce” film aired on Britain’s Channel 4, the automaker realized just how much people admired the brand and its achievements and wanted to show some gratitude by creating a more immersive experience. Behind-the-scenes campaigns have generated a lot of attention for luxury brands, since they open up a world of design and craftsmanship that previously had remained hidden (see story).

Final Take
Joe McCarthy, staff reporter on Luxury Daily, New York