An exhibition in Madrid explores the world of brand mascots and their social context.
In a world saturated with images and information, marketing increasingly refined so that the message reaches the target audience it addresses. Thus are born the concept of "brand identity", "positioning", "brand image" as an attempt to minimize the basic features of the product and to create a niche market initially unique to that brand / product.
Taking this idea and referring exclusively to brand mascots associated with the products, trend inaugurated by Michelin in 1984, is born Pictoplasma, an art project that we can enjoy in La Casa Encendida in Madrid until September 8.
Close to illustration and design, using sculpture and installation as a medium, the works of 18 international artists are exhibited. The founders of this project, Lars Denicke and Peter Thaler, going beyond sporadic exhibitions, organized around Pictoplasma conferences, workshops, international meetings, publications and ultimately the perfect place to develop ideas between artists from across the globe, being Berlin the principal place for meeting.
For them, the icon has the advantage of being timeless, almost acultural and being able to work equally well in different cultures however different they are from each other. In this case mascots are that icon in the form of monsters or original and striking beings, capable of being well received by audiences of diverse backgrounds by making reference to common forms as the human body, and much more, the face. They are elements of global recognition, as in almost every culture in the world we can find masks or human figurines.
"The missing link" is one of the stars of this show, alluding to the mythical figure of the solitary beast, devoid of any context. A monumental inflatable sculpture that almost awakens a feeling of tenderness more than terror.
Pictoplasma's mascots and logos represent nothing more than themselves. Unlike advertising examples, these contain no other meaning beyond them, they are not designed nor intended to represent any product. Herein lies their interest, their spacetime resistance and even their rapid cultural recognition.
It also has to do with the fact that this project was born in the early twentieth century online. Perhaps it was the best "place" to implement this idea, the place for which we were missing categories and references. Strange creatures for a territory that was, at that time, virtually unexplored.
Just as advertising mascots try to differentiate themselves to capture the most interest of the masses, Pictoplasma seeks instant understanding of those who contemplate them. Devoid of sense they almost represent the kind of fetishism of the image that responds to seduction with which objects can deceive us, as the case of "CHEESUSHOKAMAGOODCHEESECO" by Juan Molinet.
The exhibition is divided into two sections. The first is "fetiche", where some of the previous examples are found. The second section, which they have called "Remixes", is centered on the idea of re-appropriation of images and icons of wide recognition. These shift their meaning and turn the known and familiar, full of attributed values, to something strange and unknown. Mao Zedong with Mickey Mouse ears, clowns McDonalds clowns with obesity problems... are just some examples of the type of commonly used references drawn from the consumer culture, often eminently implemented in most of the globe from USA.
Another jewel of the exhibition is White Noise Serials, an installation of 100 cereal boxes that have been taken over each by a different artist. Exposed as they would be in a supermarket we are refer to this commonplace, although in this case it does not sell the product they carry inside. The creative exercise is based on offering them as pets, without reference to any product.
Elena Herrera Quintana
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