|Livin la vida logo
Robyn Moody questions our allegiance to brands with his Brand Removal Service
I have an embarrassing confession to make. Just like John Ralston Sauls Voltaires Bastards, Naomi Kleins book No Logo has been waiting unread on my bookshelf ever since I bought it. When I did pick it up, I was taken by a desire to free myself from the treacherous influence of brand name clothing, to fully exercise my rights and freedoms. Kleins book would serve as my battle plan. Months later, my clothing is still the clearly labeled variety. It would appear the powers of the dark side are too great for me to resist.
Luckily, there is still hope in the form of Lethbridge artist Robyn Moody, whose project for Mountain Standard Time the month long performative arts festival running rampant throughout the city is a serendipitous application of what Klein outlines in her book.
The Brand Removal Service is a site-specific performance from April 16 to 21 you can find Moody on Stephen Avenue Mall, across from the Art Gallery of Calgary, seated behind a circular kiosk. At his disposal are a variety of tools capable of removing even the most stubborn brand.
Moody is offering his services free of charge, giving people the opportunity to consider why they choose to promote these labels, if it is a choice at all. It is a reaction to the absurd bonds that form between us and the products we consume.
"I grew up feeling loyalties to brands of batteries, soft drinks, clothing, restaurants and cars, and never really knew why. It's not like a hockey team, where you can at least cite a geographical location."
The original plan was to have the Brand Removal Service located inside one of the malls along Stephen Avenue.
"We had a few potentially lined up for the MST" says Moody, "Until they (the malls) thought about it. I don't quite understand why, considering it wouldn't likely affect their sales. It's just another service being offered, but they felt it was a criticism to what they are all about. Perhaps 'consumers' would enjoy the convenience of having their fresh purchases de-branded just outside the store. I suppose this demonstrates how private the supposedly public area of a mall really is."
Moody notes that in previous operations of the Brand Removal Service, individual responses have been quite varied.
"Those who shared a concern regarding the trend of brand loyalty were quite enthusiastic, putting down their recent issue of Adbusters (another brand, really) to chat about the 'evils of corporate culture.' Those who hadn't thought much about the issue - and this was most common were generally willing and interested to engage in some discussion on their own brand loyalties and were usually keen to have themselves de-branded as a result.
"The brand-covered would go out of their way to avoid the proximity of the booth. I don't know if they felt I was shaming them. I certainly hope not. Of course, theirs would have been most difficult to de-brand, as the entire garment in question was a logo, such as the Hilfiger coat. Discussions went on constantly about brand loyalties and 'Why in the world someone would want to remove a brand if that's the reason they bought the garment in the first place?'"
Moody is careful to avoid being prescriptive in his approach.
"I offer no answers, only questions which I think is more effective in making people think. I know because I'm a stubborn bastard that I will immediately dismiss someone who tells me how I ought to live. This project is disarming, and somewhat absurd. Certainly no one should come away feeling guilty that they haven't sent money to a needy organization.
"The proactive approach spreads. Take, for example, the replacement of a company logo with a blank patch. As people replace the corporate ideology with a personal ideology, the discussion is bound to continue, with this patch as an instigator."
Following our discussion, I've examined my closet and looked over my brand-labeled collection, identifying a healthy pile of items whose labels I can live without.
See you in line.
The Brand Removal Service is a free overnight service. If you would like to participate in this event, please drop off your clothing or article at the Brand Removal Service station between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., from April 16 to 21. Items can be picked up the following day.