Where is the line drawn between inspiration, referencing and copying?
July 27, 2019 6:00 AM Subscribe
On Petite Noir, Beyoncé and What Artists Owe Each Other — an in-depth essay by Malaika Eyoh on the accusations that Beyoncé’s music video for "Spirit" is more than slightly inspired by "La Maison Noir", a 2018 video by South African artist Petite Noir.
Background/in the news:
Background/in the news:
- People say Beyoncé's 'Lion King' videos look similar to South African music video from 2018 (Yahoo Entertainment)Some of the highlights from the essay:
- Beyoncé is facing accusations of ‘stealing’ visuals for her Lion King music videos – as a fan, I’m taking them seriously (The Independent - UK)
The similarities between the videos make an interesting space for a discussion around originality and ownership of ideas in an era where almost everything has already been done by someone else. Where is the line drawn between inspiration, referencing and copying?
... The cloth and desert aesthetic used in both “Spirit” and “La Maison Noir” are reminiscent of archival photography of the Tuareg peoples of the Sahara. The techniques of dance and group formation she makes use of both in ‘Lemonade’ and “Spirit” feel deeply reminiscent of the work of someone like Alvin Ailey. Those same elements have been frequently utilized by Solange Knowles, someone who Noir has worked with in the past. Beyoncé’s interpretations of African culture and spirituality in both videos are reminiscent of films like Daughters of the Dust, and reference African historical archives and folklore. Much of Petite’s work draws from those same historical, cultural and spiritual references.
“Spirit” is built upon “La Maison Noir” in many ways that are undeniable. However, Petite Noir’s “La Maison Noir”, is a 17-minute-long, 4-part video that is built out of the cloth of a precedent set by ‘Lemonade’ but also by a canon of work that developed before and alongside them both. A canon which they have both drawn from for their own projects but also one which now includes them, albeit on an unlevel playing field. In a space where creativity is supposed to flow, what, then, is the true benefit of claiming sole ownership of an idea or a concept or even a camera shot?
... If ‘The Gift’ was meant to be a ‘love letter to Africa’, then “La Maison Noir” is an obvious reference point: a contemporary visual that makes Africa look vibrant and healthy and gives it agency. If Beyoncé, the privileged creator in this encounter, was dead set on spotlighting African voices, then yes: maybe Petite Noir should have been called. But do we all call everyone on our mood boards? Should we?
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