If you’re in San Francisco this month, you’ll want to catch Jordan Doner’s exhibition at Serge Sorokko gallery, a continuation of the artist’s “Revolution in Luxury” series. For this second installment, the New York-based conceptual artist and photographer will exhibit a series of works documenting what Doner describes as “performance-based participatory Utopias.” Doner made his art-world splash in 2009 when he detonated limited-edition Louis Vuitton handbags by Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince, as an exploration of our contemporary desires to achieve transcendence and utopia from the consumption of luxury goods.

Lauren Pellerano Gomez: How did you get your start as an artist?

Jordan Doner: I grew up in an artistic household, working in clay from a young age, and in wax from my adolescence. In my teens and 20s, I found photography and video were mediums I could make my own.

LPG: What interests you about performance?

JD: There are things that are staged in the work that are fictions, but fictions attempting to be reality. Performance is a way to imagine an experiential vernacular. To create an inhabitable fiction.

LPG: What do you surmise are the intersections between performance, luxury and consumerism?

JD: Luxury is a quality conveyed via consumerism. The performance aspect of the work is acknowledging and articulating our cultural and personal rituals of imagined elevation and ascendance through consumption.

LPG: How do you conceive of “participatory utopias” and how does your work aim to create these?

JD: In staging a utopia out of back-lit parachutes and infinity mirror rooms, the idea was to create an environment that was clean, sensual and seemingly endless. The participatory aspect comes with sets that are large enough to walk through and to populate. The setting itself should look and feel like a utopia and act as a catalyst for an unrestrained sexuality.


Jordan Doner’s “Judd ‘Untitled’,” 2015


LPG: Explain how you conceive of the term “revolutionary” in the context of contemporary art and/or the contemporary art market.

JD: Revolution, to me, in a contemporary art context means a disruptive cultural moment that reorders what’s relevant. The “revolution” in the title of pieces in the show is something different. Where notable artwork like Koons’ “Equilibrium” fish-tanks, and Judd’s “Untitled” boxes are detonated, this has more to do with an imagined cultural and political revolution that is being staged.

LPG: Why Louis Vuitton?

JD: Louis Vuitton has been doing an ongoing series of collaborations with icons of contemporary art: Richard Prince, Kusama, Murakami. They looked great, and as an intersection of art celebrity and luxury designer goods, they seem like a subject and object ripe for an imagined revolution. LVMH luxury goods in collaboration with the contemporary art world also represents the elite in a world of concentrated wealth.

LPG: How does your background in philosophy influence your work today?

JD: There’s always some constraints and focus that shapes the work. The history of ideas, in this instance about notions of transcendence and revolution, are part of the set up in choosing what to make and later—what, and how, to display it.


Doner explodes a Damien Hirst equilibrium tank piece, for Doner’s series “A Revolution in Luxury.”


LPG: In your view, what is the relationship between design and contemporary art?

JD: The boundary is breaking down. Artists adorn familiar design objects with recognizable elements in their work. There’s also the big handmade art and design object movement developing in Snarkitecture, Grey Area and others.

LPG: Most influential book you have ever read?

JD: Casanova’s autobiography [The Complete Memoirs of Casanova: the Story of My Life, by Giovanni Giacomo Casanova].  It’s about 1,000 pages, and I was rationing the pages by the end. His persistence, creativity, humor and charm in realizing and shepherding his desires through 18thcentury Europe, where he was born without title and fortune, is amazing.

LPG: Which fairs are on your radar for the Spring?

JD: I recently caught Art Los Angeles Contemporary in Santa Monica and the Material Art fair in Mexico City. Next I’ll go to Nada and the Outsider Art Fair during Frieze.


“A Revolution in Luxury II” is on view at Serge Sorokko gallery, through March 8.