Introducing Project Perpetual
Welcome to Project Perpetual, a new initiative that endeavours to ‘activate through art’. Or, to put it more plainly, a scheme designed to affect positive change outside of the parameters of the industry.
It’s a big deal. As the reporter Edward Helmore put it in an article for the Guardian, “Hollywood has had HIV and Darfur, fashion has breast cancer, and music now once again has Live Aid, but the art world – as moneyed as any of them – has never had a charity cause to call its own”.
Well, until now. Project Perpetual endeavours to raise money, through art, for children that have been identified as ‘high-risk’ by the United Nations Foundation, whose own mission is to support and encourage others to back UN efforts to make the world a better place.
“Each project personally engages influencers in government, business, entertainment, and culture to part with an object of particular significance,” a blurb on the official website reads.
“Prominent artists then use these as inspiration to create unique works, transforming meaningful gestures into everlasting statements. Believing that genuine creativity can motivate new ways of giving, Project Perpetual raises funds through the sale of exclusive artworks and generates opportunities for imaginative advocacy from contributors who have the profile to engage a broader public in causes in vital need of attention.”
The inaugural dinner and auction got off to a remarkable start, raising over $5.5 million (approximately £3.5 million) in funds that has already been earmarked for providing children with life-saving vaccines.
Ten works created especially for the event by the American contemporary artist Jeff Koons were put under the hammer, which incorporated Hermes bags that had been donated by luminaries such as Marc Jacobs, Diane von Furstenberg, Naomi Campbell, Sofia Coppola, Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz and Reem Beljafla.
One of the highlights of the sale include Gazing Ball (Charity), a plaster sculpture that includes Hermes Birkin bags that are tucked under the arms of a woman that is extending out to a child. It is based on Pablo Picasso’s La Soupe (1902-03).
“Art and philanthropy are intertwined because they are both about a way of life,” Mr Koons previously commented.
“It’s about an understanding of your internal world, your own position and needs and also the external world, the world that’s vaster than your own being. It’s about bringing those two things together.
“This is a way of really looking at the world and saying; with my means, with my perception and my understanding of joy and pleasure, how can I receive a sense of greater fulfillment in this life through a commitment to helping others?”
Project Perpetual was founded by its director Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya, a renowned collector and philanthropist. She believes that art has so much capacity for transforming people’s lives not just through the poetry and aesthetic brilliance of works, but also in the industry’s capacity to generate huge amounts of money.
This scheme, therefore, is the end result of that idea, that philosophy. And, as the first auction has proved, it is more than capable of achieving significant sales. That it goes to noble causes is quite something.
“We always felt the art world was probably extremely generous but this is a unique opportunity for art and philanthropy to come together,” said Kathy Calvin, president of the United Nations Foundation.
Cadogan Tate specialises in art transportation, fine art logistics, helping galleries, museums and collectors manage their collections.