Louis Vuitton locust exhibition exterminated early

Louis Vuitton locust exhibition exterminated early

Mitsuhiro Okamoto's statement on fake goods is removed from Kobe Fashion Museum
Louis Vuitton by Mitsuhiro Okamoto
Fake goods swarm all over the world -- but not Kobe.

In a classic case of brand protection backfiring to only raise the profile of the artist, Louis Vuitton requested Kobe Fashion Museum to remove an exhibition of the work of Mitsuhiro Okamoto that featured fake versions of their bags as locusts. The otherwise little-known exhibition is now getting national coverage as people ask how a brand corporation could so easily convince a musuem to remove artwork. 

The works were titled "Batta Mon", playing on the Japanese word for locusts, batta, and battamon, slang for fake or counterfeit goods. The exhibition started on April 15 and Okamoto was aiming to make a statement about imitation and authenticity in consumer Japan.

Following a letter to the musuem from Louis Vuitton, the museum decided not to risk a law-suit and promptly closed it down, leaving Okamoto dumbfounded. “It is ridiculous to lump the Batta Mon sculptures into the same category as counterfeit products made for commercial purposes. The works are not showing positive views of copycat products, just reflecting the social situation,” he said.

The exhibition also included works made from other brands, Chanel, Fendi, Gucci and Coach.


Robert Michael Poole is a specialist on the Japanese music and entertainment scene.

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