The Lana Sutra: Benetton Turns Fifty Shades of Grey

NEW YORK, Sep 6, 2012/ — Yesterday at 135 Crosby Street, site of Benetton’s pop-up shop, a tourist passing by noticed the “Position of the Anvil” sculpture by artist Erik Ravalo from his “The Lana Sutra Series.”

Saying to his companion, “This is definitely a Kodak moment,” the tourist took out his iPhone and took photos of the provocative sculpture. Then he asked his friend to take a photo of him with the sculpture in the background.

Risqué to the point that it will raise more than just your eyebrows, “The Lana Sutra Series” is based on the Kama Sutra, an ancient Hindu text widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior. A portion of the work consists of practical advice on sexual intercourse, which surprisingly is actually largely on text; hence visual artists have always had a free-range on its interpretation.

A part of the “Benetton: The Art of Knit” series, “The Lana Sutra Series” of sculptures were created by Cuban-born FABRICA artist Erik Ravelo.

Life-size figurative “couples” in poses from the Kama Sutra are wrapped in brightly-colored woolen yarns, and joined in positions expressing sensual pleasure and love. The sculptures engage the senses through sight and touch, communicating the warmth of wool, a human embrace, love, emotion, pleasure (kama), and a common thread which unites mankind (sutro).

For two days, Sep 4 and 5, the Benetton pop-up shop was only open to the press. Beginning today, the space will be a fully operational pop-up shop until December.

The Lana Sutra sculptures will be rotated, hence every week; there will be a new set of sculptures on display. After all, the Kama Sutra describes 64 types of sexual acts/positions.

When asked how the Lana Sutra became the center of Benetton’s communication campaign, You Nguyen, Creative Director of the brand said, “We were looking for a common thread that unites all mankind. The Hindu word ‘sutro’ (plural term is sutra) means exactly that. After that, it was an easy step to arrive at Kama Sutra.”

[MARI DAVIS]
Photos by Mari Davis

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