What is Luxury?

Scholze, Jana [Curator] and Wierzba, Leanna [Curator] (2015) What is Luxury? .


The exhibition ‘What is Luxury?’ at the Victoria and Albert Museum interrogated general ideas about luxury, its production and future by scrutinizing the relationship of luxury to change, context and conventions. It included objects which demonstrated extraordinary investment in time and skill on the part of their makers as well as projects which investigated social, material and economic networks in order to stimulate alternative thinking about luxury’s future. Against general expectation, the exhibition was not focused on luxury consumption. Instead, inquiry seemed valuable in reflecting on motifs and motivations of luxury production to highlight the investment on side of the maker and enable speculations about possible futures. Such speculations reflected on current definitions of luxury and empowered thinking about relationships, provoked consequential developments and suggested alternatives. The curatorial approach was based on an understanding that meanings of luxury change according to its contexts. The exhibition took the question as title serious but instead of providing a definition of luxury, the exhibition offered a terminology as structuring principle to highlight aspects and encourage individual interpretations of luxury. The exhibition was divided into four consecutive sections: Creating Luxury, A Space for Time, A Future for Luxury, and What is Your Luxury? It started with the premise that luxury production implies and represents an investment in time and the application of skills. The next section asked whether luxury is fundamentally connected to time and space when luxury is defined by experiences of time spent and its availability. The important relationship between luxury and value was examined through projects that critically examined issues like access, privacy and memory. The final section highlighted the importance of individual freedom, aspiration and dream for any decision about luxury.

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