In Brief

When Arty Music Videos Rip Off Artists

"An image done by me in 2010 and a still image from a music video released yesterday directed by Christopher Sweeney for Jessie Ware" (image by Asger Carlsen, via Instagram)
An image from Asger Carlsen’s ‘Wrong’ series and a still from the Jessie Ware video for “Champagne Kisses” (image by Asger Carlsen, via Instagram)

Another day, another artist’s work is put to commercial use without permission. The latest victim is New York–based photographer Asger Carlsen, who took to Instagram to point out a startling similarity between a piece from his 2010 series Wrong and a sequence in the new music video for British singer Jessie Ware’s song “Champagne Kisses.”

“An image done by me in 2010 and a still image from a music video released yesterday directed by Christopher Sweeney for Jessie Ware,” the artist wrote alongside an image juxtaposing the two.

Carlsen’s black-and-white photo features a topless model whose lower half seems to have been replaced by very rudimentary wooden prosthetics. In the “Champagne Kisses” video, Ware appears in a very similar pose, wearing a canary yellow top and with an almost identical wooden accoutrement where her lower half should be.

Directed by Christopher Sweeney, the video is rife with art references. Some are very obvious, like the Carlsen image or an homage to Marina Abramović and Ulay’s “Relation in Time” (1977), which is repeatedly quoted in the image of Ware, dressed in an Abramović-esque onesie and bound to her double by long braids. Others are more interpretive, like a sequence in which the camera tracks along a colonnade of monoliths that resemble John McCracken sculptures; at the end of it, the image of Ware and a male dancer spins and distorts like Richard Dupont sculptures.

At top: Still from Marina Abramovic and Ulay, "Relation in Time" (1977); below: Still from Jessie Ware, "Champagne Kisses" (image by the author)
At top: still from Marina Abramović and Ulay, “Relation in Time” (1977); below: still from Jessie Ware, “Champagne Kisses” (screenshot by the author)

Several of Sweeney’s other projects visually quote famous artworks. There’s the installation he created for De Beers at the Galerie La Fayette in Paris, which looks remarkably similar to Agnes Denes’s mirror-box sculptures. And his music video for the Friendly Fires song “Paris” could have been filmed inside a Yayoi Kusama mirror room. While none of these contemporary art allusions are quite so literal as the Carlsen reference in the “Champagne Kisses” video, it would be very hard to make the case that Sweeney’s use of the photo is illegal. Maybe, at the very least, he can send Carlsen some champagne.

Hyperallergic reached out to both Christopher Sweeney and Asger Carlsen. Sweeney has not responded. Carlsen wrote: “Due to circumstances I cannot make comments on the video piece.”

h/t PDN Pulse

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