The First Republic bank yesterday issued notice to close CITIZEN:Citizen bank accounts, A letter simply informing of the closure of current checking acconts was later discovered to have been activated by Meryll Lynch legal department stating that the type of products CITIZEN:Citizen produces are unsuitable for the bank to be seen doing business with.
No comment was available from First Republic, their representatives were hesitant to reveal any further details.
At a time when CITIZEN:Citizen’s work is being acquired for permanant colelctions of the worlds premier art museums, and that damian hirst is raising sales of 200million dollars the day that leahman brothers goes under, it’s a wonder why a move such as this be made, was it arch conservatism or petty mindedness on the banks part. Can it be that CITIZEN:Citizen is really provoking culture at this level?
“This comes after several altercations with larger institutions over the years”, says Philip Wood the founder of CITIZEN:Citizen “However I really can’t believe that our very own bank is closing our account due to the design and art objects we produce, we do atttempt to highlight and observe the boundaries between art design and culture, I never thought we’d be highlighted by the likes of Meril lynch as an obsticle to their commercial succes. I must admit it seems a very in oportune moment for the likes of banks and investment firms to take some moral high ground after the debacle of the last few weeks. If our commenting on drug culture in the 80’s or attitudes towards sexuality or brand slavishness seems a blight to their character, I suggest they take a long hard look at themselves pushing people further into debt and acting like rogue traders across the globes financial markets. I think a lot of us are becoming unsure of the idea that wealth will trickle down, yet it seems sure that debt and poverty do”
Several of the objects in CITIZEN:Citizen’s collection are part of the permanent collections of museums such as the NY MoMA and the SFMOMA. This really is unpresidented move by a bank. One more
Our second cease and desist came from a french based clothing brand Chanel who through their lawyers in NY
It’s surely somewhat difficult to understand what rights we have without the funds to fight the argument, this country like it’s former colonial ruler is built upon case law
Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, P.C.
866 United Nations Plaza
New York, NY 10017
April 29th 2008-04-29
Dear Mr C
I am writing in connection to your email dated April 18th 2008, regarding the infringement of Chanel, Inc. trademark.
CITIZEN:Citien works at the forefront of art and design, commenting on how an objects meaning and function is ultimately determined by the culture they inhabit as much as it is by the initial design process. As such, it has never been and never will be our intention to damage or mar another company’s reputation.
I therefore have to disagree with the position Cannel has taken on this, the work of Tobias and the other artists we work with is commentary and a type of cultural hybridisation. Their work is in the collections of globally recognized museums and is very far away from the issues of fakes, grey imports and the vendors on Canal St NY.
I think at the end of the day Chanel benefits more than us with the hybridisation, Tobias had done something similar with another fashion brand who took the plagarised work and built it into their next add campaign to great success.
There are two items that you mention, firstly the ccPhone a limited edition phone with personalized address book. The phone has no association with Chanel only a photo-shoped logo placed on the image, we will change this image on our website and our press images. There is no way we can control any body reusing existing images on any sites for that you’ll have to contact them.
The second item you mentioned the ccMatches are produced by us CITIZEN:Citizen (CC) as a limited edition work by the artist, the edition is near complete and we will therefore take this from our collection.
If your client or yourself would like any further information or are interested in purchasing anything from our collection please don’t hesitate in contacting me.