Burberry, the 162-year-old English luxury fashion label, has been going through an aggressive rebranding to the ire of many purists. With the appointment of Riccardo Tisci (formerly of Givenchy) as creative director, the British stalwart known for its unfussy trench coats and distinctive tartan, put out a new logo, a new monogram, and new streetwear, and has also re-invented its London Regent Street flagship store.
Built in a historic theater, curtains pile and divide the renovated store in muted pastels and subdued neutrals while raw plywood contends with pristine crown molding, but the greatest disruption to the classic setting is front and center: a massive architectonic installation, Sisyphus Reclined, by British artist Graham Hudson visible just through the main doors.
Sisyphus Reclined is three stories of metal scaffolding shooting up in the middle of the store so convincingly reminiscent of construction work that one Burberry employee told me that people have walked into the store and nearly turned away, thinking the renovation incomplete. Adorning the tower are plastic torsos, fluorescent bulbs, and containers of protein powder.
Sisyphus Reclined is part of Hudson’s investigation into architecture and design—often defined by large-scale structures of raw metal, plywood pallets, cardboard, and chairs—combined with his interest in bodybuilding and physical augmentation.
The tower, at first glance a confusing mass, is entirely navigable by stairs, and at the very top is a photogrammetry rig: a ring, almost threatening, of lights and cameras that take a 3-D photograph which is processed in the workshop on the floor below and then etched by the robotic arm at ground level into a styrofoam sculpture.
Not just visual and spatial, the installation is also sonic. Eerie sounds, many slowed-down DJ callouts, play from a turntable phantasmagorically spinning without any human control. The whole store is a study in dissonance, the clash of the classic and the contemporary, the neutral and the new, the refined and the raw.
For those who make it to London, Sisyphus Reclined will be on view until October 26.