On Wednesday, Moscow municipal authorities said that they’re dismantling a giant designer suitcase-shaped pavilion installed in the middle of Red Square, following a wave of public outrage and many demands for its removal. The city’s media and advertising department said that the sponsors of the Louis Vuitton-backed installation were preparing to take it down on Wednesday afternoon, after the Kremlin and the landmark GUM department store asked for the removal of their new neighbour. On Wednesday afternoon, GUM confirmed that work began to dismantle the titanic trunk. Measuring 30 metres (99 feet) long and nine metres (30 feet) high, and adorned with the Louis Vuitton logo, the oversized travel case was due to house a “Soul of Travel” exhibition organised by the famed French fashion house from 2 December to 19 January. Consisting of historical suitcases and video installations, the display was one of several events scheduled to commemorate GUM’s 120th anniversary.
However, public ire over the litigious luggage reached a fever pitch in recent days as people criticised the suitcase’s placement in Red Square… a UNESCO Heritage Site and the first port of call for most visitors to the Russian capital… as well as the display’s timing over the New Year holiday period. Lawmakers in the RF Gosduma, based just across the road from Red Square, complained that the “obscenity” denigrated the landmark, which they called a sacred symbol of Russian government. On Wednesday, a GUM spokesman said that the department store decided to send the suitcase packing after an overwhelmingly negative public reaction, and a Kremlin source told journalists that the presidential administration hadn’t agreed to the pavilion’s construction. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said that the Kremlin issued no official orders to remove the pavilion. He said that there was nothing wrong with the suitcase, although he noted that those who designed it “obviously lacked a sense of proportion”. However, the lost luggage may yet find a new place to stay in the capital. Spokesmen from both Gorky Park (TsPKiO) and the all-Russia Exhibition Centre (VVTs), two of Moscow’s largest parks, told RIA-Novosti that they were ready to consider taking in the trunk, but that they haven’t yet received any requests to host the pavilion.
The fate of the “Soul of Travel” exhibition, a non-profit show to raise funds for supermodel Natalia Vodianova’s charity project, the Naked Heart Foundation, remains unclear. Vodianova, who founded the children’s charity in 2004, expressed hope that the exhibition wouldn’t face cancellation and that they could move the trunk to a new site. She wrote on her Facebook page, “If the exhibition doesn’t take place, not only will we be deprived of an exciting journey into history and beauty, but the charitable funds from ticket sales… which Louis Vuitton originally proposed to transfer to the Naked Heart Foundation… won’t be generated”. Louis Vuitton said that it planned to give the entire proceeds from the exhibition’s 200-rouble (6 USD. 6.40 CAD. 6.70 AUD. 4.50 Euros. 3.70 UK Pounds) admission charge to Vodianova’s charity. On Wednesday, repeated calls to the fashion house’s head office in London went unanswered.
27 November 2013