After more than 20 years of hard work, in the year 1975 you finally made it to Mexico´s Modern Art Museum (MAM) with some furniture pieces in the collective exhibition “Exposición Retrospectiva y Prospectiva de Diseño Mexicano”. 41 years later they have become iconic design works and proof of a beautiful mind; at the time it was already a legacy to the world and to the handcrafted and industrial design. During the next 15 years you kept developing restlessly new designs that nowadays we know as your heritage to humankind. In 1975, the Director of the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico (MAM) was Fernando Gamboa, first historiographer in Mexico and he has also been judged by history for his impeccable work (your lives were almost parallel, you both passed away in 1990 and he was 5 years older than you, furthermore, you two shared a real passion for honest work and perfection and were pioneers in your area of expertise and most relevant, none of you were affected by a pressing need of fame). You as well as other designers were fortunate enough to work with him like your partners in this exhibition: Po Shun Leong, Genaro Alvarez, Pal Kepenyes, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Horacio Durán, etc. and many other artists through his life.
Good old days in which the IMCE (Instituto Mexicano de Comercio Exterior) and other institutions were involved in funding this type of exhibitions and the Secretaria de Educación Pública was interested in promoting the work of different artists as their final goal, and not making obscure alliances with commercial purposes like the ones we are witnessing in our times.
Unfortunately the news that I bring to you today are bad, but as you can remember since we met for the first time, the deal was to tell you the truth even when I did not like one of your sketches for a piece of furniture, jewelry or any other object.
So here we go:
MUSEO DE ARTE MODERNO 2016 “Don S. Shoemaker Diseño Artesanal e Industrial“
I will try to explain as succinct as possible the development of the wrong doing of the “family”.
In my website (launched in 2010, as you know) I started to denounce forgeries, attributions and copies like the “X-Chair”, some “Diamond” desks, two “Day Bed” models, and several tables of the “Parsons Line” (the “family” and the curator do not even know that this particular design, the original one, is a table, not a desk, and that it belongs to the Parsons Line) which by the way, one of them, a relative uses as her desk and commercialized it under that category.
During the last 7 years they have been trying to remain in a comfort zone in which a lot of people know who is producing all these abject monstrosities so I had been busy consulting different auction houses, 1stdibs.com, etc. and I have tried to maintain the Don S. Shoemaker furniture market controlled and away from many other things that the “family” have been producing lately, that, of course, these pieces do not belong to the SEÑAL, S.A. catalog.
In 2014, Iñaki, curator for the Modern Art Museum (MAM) in Mexico City contacted me to ask if a small piece of wood that he called an “abstract sculpture” that carried a fake “Don S. Shoemaker” label was original. I explained to him the motifs and reasons why it was a fake and in return, he decided to contact the “family”. Of course, they authorized the piece as “an original” and there began the great expectations of both parties. The same offer that Iñaki made to me of an exhibition at the MAM, that I refused, was made now to them. Iñaki with the purpose of self-glorification becoming THE DILETTANTE curator of Don S. Shoemaker and the “family” finding a way to authenticate the trash they have been selling.
In 2015 during the month of June, the DS exhibition was announced to take place concomitant to the DESIGN WEEK MEXICO event in October 2015. I had a brief conversation with the MAM´s director and she decided to postpone the exhibition to a future date. I guess at this moment they did not have the back-up of the patrons of DESIGN WEEK, whom by the way own a furniture and interior design showroom named BLEND.
In 2016, a leak of information about the programming of a DS exhibition at the MAM concurrent with DESIGN WEEK MEXICO 2016, enlightened me of the pieces that they were already preparing to show as “DS original production”. At that very moment I decided to contact the Secretary of Culture of Mexico. I prepared more than enough evidence to proof the wrong doing of the “family”, their fakes, attributions and forgeries and unfortunately lots of furniture pieces of recent manufacture that they claimed were originals, prototypes, unique pieces, numbered pieces, signed and limited editions, and many other appellatives that in conjunction with Iñaki and his curatorial team were ready to authenticate and present at this exhibition.
So my pilgrimage started with the Director of International Affairs at the Secretaria de Cultura de México. Then the INBA Director; she set up a meeting with the Director of all Museums in Mexico, including the MAM´s director and Iñaki. By the way, I have the recordings of all the meetings in which they claimed that the field investigation performed by Iñaki was extensive, profound and conclusive, and that it was mainly focused on the immense photographic archive that the family owns and preserved in perfect condition, and supported by a far bigger archive of I do not know what, because evidently it was of no use. I told to all these people that the immense photographic archive that allegedly Iñaki´s work and research was supported by, actually was based on a shoe box that contained no more than 60 photographs, a few letters and some catalog flyers of the SEÑAL, S.A., now on display at the Don S. Shoemaker exhibition at the museum. I coined the term “field trip investigation” to refer to the work of Iñaki. I was right!
At that moment I thought that with all the evidence that I presented, among others: letters of collectors outraged by the flood of forgeries, fakes and attributions, treasure hunters who instead of treasure witnessed the production in 2010 and 2012 of different furniture pieces (now on display at the MAM), and letters of people who bought for example the so called “X-Chairs”, claiming that they were deceived, some others from galleries that had to return the money to their clients, etc. and sustained by all the respect that I had for the Secretaria de Cultura, in my candidness, I thought that they were going to evaluate the situation and realize that after being exposed Mr. Iñaki the way I did, and after having exposed the dates, models and recent production of the “family” I was going to get a favorable verdict and that the name of Don S. Shoemaker and his legacy would have remained unspotted, far from the mud and more important, unrelated to all the felonies, lies and stupidity of Iñaki and company. Of course, the issue of the MAM´s involvement as a main player in the launching and marketing of the heir´s plagiarism designs was a main discussion theme with all the Secretaria de Cultura people and time gave me the reason. SO SAD…
So sad, because the exhibition of what was supposed to be your work opened last Wednesday October 5th with full endorsement from all the people of the Secretaria de Cultura, and to my deepest and sincere discomfort I was right, from all the furniture pieces shown at the MAM maybe there are 4 or 5 that were produced by SEÑAL, S.A. And the worst part is that with no credentials at all, the grandchildren (I do not know if you remember them, but they are the little kids that you saw time after time), using the line “my grandfather was Don S. Shoemaker”, now they made it to show some pieces with the help of Mr. Iñaki, who is far from being a reliable curator to the point in which I will quote his words:“se habló con ex trabajadores que aún viven, que trabajaron con Don que ayudaron a fechar y a deducir los tipos de madera exacta de los muebles en las fotografías”. That´s what the Secretaria de Cultura called an academic investigation!???? At least, Iñaki mentioned on the Exhibition´s Acknowledgement List the name of the only ex-worker who helped him to date and deduce from a photography the exact wood species used in the depicted piece of furniture, and by extension, of course, the newly made ones.
But guess what, today you can see an “interpretation” of Don S. Shoemaker´s Sling Chair on sale at BLEND store made by Stanley, that’s what I call appropriation! You will also find at the MAM´s DS exhibition a “desk”, the new “Sling Chair” and the “X-Chair”, as well as the “Diamond Desk” that I denounced and many pieces produced in the last 5 years that carry a description card like the one that describes the chair used for the wallpaper and the invitation to the exhibition in which you can read: “Don S. Shoemaker, Silla Años 1960 (ensamblada en 2016 con partes originales, tapizada en 2016) Granadillo. Colección Familia Shoemaker. Esta pieza fue revisada por técnicos especialistas del CENCROPAM y de la Escuela de Artesanías del INBA en Septiembre, 2016”
I have a question for you, Mr. Iñaki: if the grandson of a novelist publishes under his name exactly the same text of one of his grandfather´s novels but written only in capitals, how would you call it, a reinterpretation or a simple and clear appropriation? Or is this one of the liberties that you can indulge yourself, that of course Mr. Fernando Gamboa would never have approved. But I have a confession to make to Mr. Iñaki: I am a little bit jealous of his exhibition because during the last 7 years, as I said, I have been unsuccessful to make this overwhelming exposé of the fakes, forgeries, attributions, etc. that you have been able to put together under the roof of the MAM. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You managed to orchestrate the perfect exposé and I give you all the credits.
P.S.: Please tell George Richard that due to his absence (how convenient), now he is being blamed for all the recent production, for example the “Salas Elefante”, sold in auction in 2010 and most of the reproductions on display at the MAM´s exhibition. Hugs and kisses for you two guys as always!
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