The exhibit mimicked a Supreme drop — and some felt it hit a little too close to home

Supreme is a brand that somehow feels equally intimidatingly cool and like an easy target for mocking. Whichever side you fall on, it’s a brand largely responsible for the esteemed place streetwear currently occupies in high fashion, and I’m guessing few hypebeasts know the Supreme logo’s somewhat contentious origins.

The skate brand borrowed from artist Barbara Kruger’s work to create its signature box logo. This went unacknowledged until 2013, when Supreme sued Leah McSweeney, Married to the Mob founder, for created a parody shirt reading “Supreme Bitch.” Kruger spoke out, sending a legendary Microsoft Word document titled fools.doc to a reporter that read:  “What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers. I make my work about this kind of sadly foolish farce. I’m waiting for all of them to sue me for copyright infringement.”

Now you know why it’s kind of amazing that Kruger, as part of Performa 2017, took a big jab at Supreme with her take on a skatepark and a bus covered with slogans printed in that iconic white Futura Bold text on a red background. Kruger also released 50,000 MetroCards at vending machines at four stations around New York, similar to the MetroCard Supreme released earlier this year.

This was Kruger’s first-ever performance piece, and it played out very closely to how an actual Supreme drop would happen. It played out so closely, in fact, that some reviews of the performance felt it was, as Jamie Lauren Keiles from The New Yorker wrote, “hard to tell exactly who was parodying whom.”

That aside, the prices were reasonable ($65 for a skate deck; $40 for a Kruger-designed tee) and the proceeds went to charity. People in line might have felt like they were playing themselves as they waited alongside teen skaters doing ollies (part of the performance?) — but at least it was for a good cause. Hard to apply the “totally uncool jokers” label to that.


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