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A new tourism park in Indonesia aiming to be a destination for selfies is under fire for its attractions that copy widely recognized contemporary artworks. Last week, photographs from the Bandung-based operation, named Rabbit Town, circulated widely, showing that it features installations nearly identical to immersive works by Chris Burden and Yayoi Kusama. Users on social media have since called out the attraction for blatant plagiarism and lack of creativity.
The tourist destination, whose slogan is “The Way to More Happiness,” officially opened last month and offers family-friendly activities such as rabbit-feeding and amusement rides. The attraction it promotes the most, however, is “Love Light,” a group of white street lamps arranged in a grid and intended solely as a site for a photo opportunity. It is nearly identical to “Urban Light,” the assemblage sculpture by Chris Burden, which has stood at the entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art since 2008. The similarity was made widely known after Diet Prada, the Instagram account that calls out knock-offs, posted a comparison image with the caption, “Hey @rabbittown.id … it’s cool you wanna bring some LA flavor to Indonesia, but blocking the people tagging @lacma in the comments doesn’t really go with chill West coast vibes… Chris Burden’s ‘Urban Lights’ installation is pretty iconic lol.”
Rabbit Town has since disabled the comments section of its Instagram, where people have been pointing out the similarities to Burden’s work. It has not responded to Hyperallergic’s inquiries. LACMA and Gagosian Gallery, which represents the late artist, have also not responded to requests for comment.
“Urban Lights” is one of the most photographed sites in Los Angeles, and one of the most widely recognizable works of contemporary art in the world. So is Yayoi Kusama’s “The Obliteration Room” (2002–present), a copy of which is also on view at Rabbit Town. Dubbed “Love Lock,” the Bandung version invites visitors to do exactly what Kusama asks of those who enter her installation, which begins as an entirely white, furnished room: cover it in colorful stickers that resemble polkadots. David Zwirner, which represents Kusama, did not return Hyperallergic’s requests for comment.
Evidently eyeing visuals that have viral success, Rabbit Town’s designers didn’t stop at contemporary art. They also seemingly lifted numerous installations wholesale from the Museum of Ice Cream (MOIC), a widely popular, traveling exhibition that features immersive environments built for social media sharing. Literally named “Museum of Ice Cream,” this area in Rabbit Town features rooms that have appeared in MOIC, from a space with hanging lights that resemble ice cream cones to the “California” room, which is decorated with pink-and-yellow wallpaper of plants.
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for MOIC told Hyperallergic that this is not the first time Rabbit Town has been accused of infringement “for their blatant disregard of artist‘s intellectual property.”
“This new Instagram account was created following our notice and takedown of their original account,” MOIC’s statement reads. “Instagram’s legal department has already been notified about this attempt to circumvent our efforts and we anticipate it being shut down very soon. We’re happy to work with other artists and museums to collaborate together to make sure that this comes to a stop. After countless hours of creating something as unique as Museum of Ice Cream, we want to ensure the ideas and designs stay within the walls that they were born.” The spokesperson added that MOIC is sending Rabbit Town a cease and desist.
According to local daily Pikiran Raykat, Rabbit Town is owned by Henry Husada, a local developer who, in 2016, earned the Indonesian World Record Museum (MURI) Award for the “Record of Single Owner of the Most Hotels.” An entrance ticket costs 25,000 rupiahs, or $1.75 US, making the attraction an affordable destination, and one that has drawn crowds since its soft opening in January. Its reputation, however, has clearly suffered in the last week. On Facebook, where it has a two-star rating, a reviewer wrote, “Imitating other’s creation without giving credit to it’s respected creator is not cool.” Users on other social media platforms have poked fun at the obvious ripoffs, and others have denounced Rabbit Town for failing to use this opportunity to promote Indonesian artists. Instagram user @rascalities commented, “so instead of hiring local artists who deserve to have the opportunities and experiences to further their careers you’d rather plagiarize instead @rabbittown.id? we have a fucking amazing homegrown art culture and yet u do shit like this smh unbelievable.”
The names of different sections in the park, from “Museum of Ice Cream” to “LA Store,” appear to be the only physical traces that directly tie Rabbit Town’s installations to their original sources. But perhaps its organizers were never trying to get away with ripping off famous art in the first place. After all, it’s hard to cover up theft when you’re trying to make what you’re peddling go viral.