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Coachella Being Uncool With Its Artists


Coachella art

Coachella is actually called ‘The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Annual Festival’, there is ‘Arts’ in it, and we often forget about that. I have also seen this tendency at the FYF fest, and more and more we will see pieces of art at festivals (in general gigantesque sculptures) building a visual landscape for the music.

There is an article in the LA Weekly describing the artists’ struggle to be recognized and finally find their place inside the giant music festival. This year was the first year artists saw their names printed on the Coachella poster, obviously a big progress in the recognition process. There was a time when artists were barely paid, had to buy their water like any concertgoer and didn’t even had private toilet or shower. Things got better little by little and artists now have their own showers, plenty of port-o-potties and free drinking water. Some of them can even get food, but an artist was told to buy his own poster when he asked for one. This is so cheap when you think about Coachella’s huge profit!

This year was also the first time of a new feature, as artists received an email asking them to remove their names from their work. Let’s just say they were not happy considering that projects are now so big and so well made that they demand ‘year-round endeavors, paid crews and serious budgets’.

‘This came up because an artist took it upon themselves to put their name, website and hashtag on all of their pieces of art. And it wasn’t small. It was very obvious, and it detracted from what we sought to accomplish,’ said Paul Clemente, Coachella’s art director. ‘Everyone’s name was on the poster, we put up an art web page, so it’s not hard to find out whose art it is.’

But it requires effort and most people won’t do it. This is another way for Coachella to own everything, and Clemente is clear and direct about this: ‘I’m not going to lie to you, the priority is about Coachella. It’s about what’s best for the show.’

And don’t you dare identify your art one way or another: ‘Somebody’s going to put a sticker over it, tag it. It’s gonna get ripped in the middle of the night, gum stuck on it,’ added Clemente.

So Coachella is so uncool with its artists that they don’t even get full access: ‘We get very limited access’, said one of them, ‘We have field passes, and that’s it.’ ‘But the way Coachella does things is an anomaly. We’re not allowed in VIP areas or backstage. We’re not invited to parties, or the places potential collectors might be.’

Things may evolve even more, but there’s a long way to go and the hip festival may be too much into that branding Coachella thing to go back.

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