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… if I had ever bought any of their overpriced clothing in the first place. I don’t think continuing a policy of not buying something rises to the level of a boycott. You need to stop buying something in order for anyone to notice.

The Scandinavian clothier finds itself in a bit of hot water these days for pulling their sponsorship of a European art competition because the work of one of the finalists,  Palestinian photographer  multi-media artist Larissa Sansour, was “too pro-Palestinian.” There are a couple of good articles on the controversy here and here. Lacoste’s ridiculous attempt at a walk-back is available here.

Lacoste’s knee-jerk reaction raises a few interesting  questions, the first of which is why Sansour’s work didn’t cause them any heartburn until she became one of eight semi-finalists for the $32,000 Lacoste Elysée Prize? Seems like they would have known earlier and been able to react without making themselves look dumber than a bag of doorknobs, which is precisely how they made themselves look by offering the lamest of excuses for removing Sansour’s work from the competition.

The best this collection of corporate geniuses could come up with was that her work “…did not belong in the theme of “joie de vivre” (happiness), ”

Never mind that the finalists were apparently permitted to interpret the theme as they chose, or that Lacoste was already familiar with Sansour’s work before the competition began.

Nation Estate - Main Lobby (Larissa Sansour)

If you ever require evidence that corporations are not people (the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision notwithstanding), you need only consider that had LaCoste been an actual human being instead of a group of people trying to think in the same direction, they would have been able to avoid tripping over their own stupidity. No reasonably intelligent human being would ever say  “never, was Lacoste’s intention to exclude any work on political grounds,” when clearly they were excluding Sansour’s work on transparently political grounds.

Nation Estate - Olive Tree (Larissa Sansour)

A person of even below-average intelligence would also realize that their panicky termination of their support for the competition would draw much more attention to Sansour’s work than simply ignoring it.

I’m not a big fan of these contests in the first place and the vortex of dumbassedness that swirls around the Lacoste Elysee Prize just makes me more disgusted with the whole exercise. Lacoste should realize that when you turn artists loose on a theme and give them a free hand, you run the risk of getting something other than what you might have expected. Sansour’s previous work was all the warning that they should have needed. Now they look like fools.

Next time, Lacoste should support an artistic competition with a more controllable theme. “Babies and Puppies,” maybe. Or “Little Girls on Porch Swings.”

Update – 12/26/2011: The artist herself had some pretty interesting observation in the article here. Apparently, “Carte Blanche” means something to Lacoste that’s different from what it means to the rest of us.


  1. Good points. But “Babies and Puppies” would be a good theme for me! Just sayin’ as I love my dogs and am expecting my first grandchild. Doesn’t take much to make me smile. Feeling contrarian today for some reason . . .

    • Babies AND puppies? Maybe one or the other, but not both. Upon reflection, I think having babies and puppies together opens the door to far too many disturbing political interpretations.

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