The new Sigg water bottle, designed by James Rizzi, presents enthusiasts with the true zenith of pop art: a commercial item reflecting a commercial item.
Rizzi’s choice of the image of modern “pseudo-innocence,” commonly associated with the fanatical American “Indie” culture, might be an attempt to isolate one of popular culture’s massproduced icons, and to criticise consumerism; it is, ironically, a collectable worth collecting, thus the metaphor has become its original object, the fig leaf has turned into genitalia.
Reminiscent of the artwork satirically used in the dark comedies of directors like Wes Anderson and Jason Reitman, the design is playful, but it also offers something more for those willing to look further. Like most pop art, it acts deceptively as a comment upon naivety rather than a reproduction of it, and whilst the colourful compositions premise this by hinting at a childlike innocence, they also enable this kind of avant-garde art to emphasise particular elements in contemporary culture.
The obscure critique of consumer society is customary. Considering the aristocratic origins of more dated art, contemporary artists tend to be from comparatively modest backgrounds. In Rizzi’s case – and in true pop-art fashion – attitudes are more important. With candour redolent of the late Andy Warhol, he declares in an interview – published on his website – that he deplores greed, but also fears not being able to afford the things he is used to.
His admiration of those who work hard, provide, and “live in the present” is also common to proponents of pop art, who have always aimed to create something with instant meaning, transmitting messages that are tremendously blunt in contrast to the esoteric canvases of abstract expressionism. After graduating from the University of Florida, Rizzi made a name for himself, first in the US, then globally, thanks to his seemingly cheerful portrayal of emotions and situations. One of the most important features of his work has been the “3D artwork” he devised and developed; eventually leading him into the realms of animation, object design, Rosenthal porcelain, and most recently this recent Sigg collectable.
Sigg, founded in Switzerland over 100 years ago, has an export share of more than 90 percent, making their product an ideal canvas for mass-manufactured art, whether ironic or not. They elect a new design on a yearly basis, with two of their bottles so far having made it into the permanent exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The company’s artistic aspirations, as well as their allegedly ecofriendly rationale, both correspond to the optimism communicated in Rizzi’s work, and have attracted both appreciative sporty-types as well as celebrities such as Gisele Bündchen, Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher, who tend to wear pro-sustainability in the same way they wear make-up and designer clothing.
The Sigg bottle by James Rizzi is available from October at www.sigg.com.
Article by Kyle Packer