Arts and Culture

Our Commercial Culture: South Africa Fashion Week

Like graffiti, most adverts sloppily plastered to the screens of the technospere fall under the heading of worthless cultural detritus, but also like graffiti, some pop up out of nowhere and shock us with their inventiveness and brilliance. They cause us to take pause and reflect on our own humanness before re-entering the sea of platitudes and tired themes that populate the majority of the advertising we're subjected to. This week, a spot for South Africa Fashion Week rips the heart out of traditional advertising and replaces it with art.

This is the best kind of ad. One that stays in our minds not because of an annoying slogan, but because it has genuinely reached out and connected with something powerful and ineffable inside of us.

Using conventions of film, animation, visual art and narrative, this elegant ad gives commercial art a good name. There's so much going on here, both technically and thematically, but it's executed with such grace that it appears effortless. Melding the aesthetics of the ER and human anatomy with fashion and animation to explore life and death, gender and the organic and the synthetic, this ad doesn't really try to do anything other than dazzle the senses and stir the mind. Are those men in high heels? Or are they women without breasts? All of the above, perhaps? Does it matter? Who knows, it's fashion, and it's blowing our minds.

Even though the advert is informing the viewer of an event (pardon the random footage at the end), it does what all quality art does and remains relevant to itself alone, not whoring itself out in an attempt to sell something else, but existing on its own as an affirmation of the beauty and intensity of the human imagination.

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Ben Dayton
Contact: Ben Dayton