Early this year, Gucci unveiled a new commission by artist MP5, On/Off at the exhibition space Gucci Garden in Florence. The two-part wall painting was created across the first and second floors—the lower iteration exists in a dark room evoking a feeling of protection, while the mirrored image on the second floor is filled with light and color, telling a story of the emotional impact of relationships.
MP5 furthers their own relationship with Gucci this year, collaborating with creative director Alessandro Michele for the brand’s CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign, which debuted on ArtWalls in London, Milan, New York, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. The artist’s signature black-and-white figures appear genderless, their chest and hips covered by a yellow equal sign. The message in both projects for Gucci is one of fluidity and togetherness, a message the luxury house has notably embraced under Michele’s leadership, and will continue to in the future. “Every person is created equal. We all have the power to use our voices to stand up for what we believe in. When we gather together across generations and communities, we have the opportunity to create real change. The fearlessness of this generation to express themselves gives me hope that a future of freedom and equality is possible,” said Michele in a statement. This year CHIME FOR CHANGE, the nonprofit founded in 2013, supports a number of partners, including Equality Now, the Global Fund for Women, and Vital Voices.
Whitewall reached out to MP5 to learn more about their vision of freedom and love.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell us about the two-part wall painting that was unveiled earlier this year at Gucci Garden, On/Off?
MP5: On/Off is a work about freedom, love, and diversity. I wanted to show the glorious side of intimate relationships. I drew inspiration from the Renaissance frescoes to build an imagery that could speak to everybody about issues that mean a lot to me.
WW: You designed the new identity for Gucci’s CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign. What kind of message did you want to extend with your imagery?
MP5: CHIME is a campaign that has worked to accomplish gender equality for several years. I tried to push this even further. I wanted to show that gender and sexuality shouldn’t be used to manipulate or discriminate. These differences are what make us special. All human beings are different on many levels and that’s what makes each of us unique.
WW: What about the mission of CHIME FOR CHANGE speaks to you personally?
MP5: I have always focused on topics that relate to gender issues, and I draw inspiration from diversity. Much of my work is related to queer activism, including the art I created for the Italian feminist movement “Non Una Di Meno,” so CHIME is the perfect platform for me to speak out on topics that I care about.
WW: How do you think creativity and arts can serve the goal of supporting gender equality?
MP5: Creativity and art speak a universal language that touches people. Art has an immediate impact that can help people gather under a shared vision, to gather together, as the CHIME slogan says.
WW: So much of your work is created for the public. What do you enjoy about creating art for such a wide, democratic audience?
MP5: When I create, I don’t think of the audience. I always do it for myself. The reactions that come from my art are always surprising for me. When somebody is touched by what I do, I feel blessed, as that part of the process is still a mystery for me.
WW: Have you always seen your practice as a space for activism?
MP5: I’m happy that I have the ability to support causes that I am passionate about through my art. I like to create art that speaks to topics I feel strongly about, and sometimes it works perfectly when other people or organizations want to spread those important messages, too.