David LaChapelle Sues Rihanna, Contradicts Own Methodology

junkyardarts February 15, 2011 Comments Off on David LaChapelle Sues Rihanna, Contradicts Own Methodology

David Lachapelle Perry Ferrell

Oh, David LaChapelle.  What the hell are you thinking?

Seems a little absurd, you suing Rihanna over her music video, S&M, which is inspired by your work, don’t you think?  Considering your entire career is built on repurposing, re-imagining and creating derivative works based on the classics (and modern art as well)?  There is nothing wrong with gaining inspiration from your surroundings, and if you are an artist then those surroundings are bound to be music, paintings, sculpture, new media and photography.  Art in this post-post neo modern clusterfuck era is all based on influences from past works – nothing is original in the sense that it is uniquely conceived – including your work, LaChapelle.

And I love your work. I do. I think your hyper-reality, dada-surrealism is pure pop-fantasy gold.  But let’s not act like this:

The Rape of Africa David LaChapelleisn’t directly based on this:

Venus and Mars Botticelli

or that this:

courtney love david lachapelleisn’t directly based on this:

michelangelo's pieta

or that this:

Lepore David Lachapelleisn’t inspired by your friend and former employer Andy Warhol.  Or that this:

jennifer lopez david lachapelleisn’t obviously a direct (if not exact) take on Flashdance.

I get it, David. I do.  You want to be credited for your work – and you absolutely should! – but to rage a war on another artist doing exactly the same thing that you have built a career on, the same thing musicians have always used, art, to influence their music videos (Madonna anyone? YOU, LaChapelle) so let’s not act like you are some victim here.  Everyone knows the video is influenced by your work, and they see your influence because you are an icon.  Should Rihanna and her video director say “ooh yeah, we love LaChapelle’s work!”, yes, because obviously they do.  Saying “the music video is directly derived from and substantially similar to the LaChapelle works” is not untrue, but they can argue that by virtue of changing medium and intrinsic meaning of the imagry, your case for infringement is weakened.  And while copyright includes derivative works, you will have to argue that the work is undeniably copying your own.  You will have to argue that her work is hindering your work from being profitable.  That the music video is damaging your credibility as an artist.  That the video is portraying itself as a work of yours without proper credit.  OR that the music video is a clear derivative from your work and not simply the ‘inspiration’ for it.

You go on to say that Rihanna stole eight images for the video, which copied the “composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting of [your] work.”  And you are right.  It does.  And you have a case.

But I can’t get the hypocritical taste out of my mouth.  Though I guess the law protects all of us, no matter how ironic our behavior may be.

David LaChapelle / Reuters /

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