Cultural Appropriation Or an Homage?

Dec 2015
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Aboriginal art industry says this work in Ricky Gervais's new series amounts to 'cultural theft

The British comedian's series, After Life, has been widely viewed around the world, holding the number-one trending spot on Netflix since its release last week.

Gervais's character's living room is seen frequently throughout the program and features a large dot-painting resembling art produced in remote Aboriginal communities in central Australia.

Commenting on social media, fans were excited to track down the Indigenous artist whose work had hit the big time, but that quickly turned to disappointment.

It emerged the work was done by a female English painter who instead replicated the style of Aboriginal art.

"It is a strong image … it belongs to the Papunya style, " said Punata Stockman, chairperson of the Papunya Tjupi art centre.

It's an interesting debate, but I would say no matter who appropriates such an artistic style, it still belongs to the unique Papunya community. Any alien artist who adopts or mimics this style is doing so for artistic expression and, possibly, for pecuniary gain. That being so, the only difference I can see is relative value between who created the art, those of Papuan provence being the more valuable of course.
 

Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
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Definitely a bit of plagiarizing going on here. But I don't see how you could enforce laws to stop this sort of "theft". And it's a real slippery slope in claiming a particular style is part of a culture and as such should be off limits to others to be influenced by. The lines are just to undefinable in my opinion.

That said, in this case the artist apologized and really wasn't making a great deal of money for creating this anyway.

If people want to use social stigma to discourage misappropriation, fine, but I can't see where there can ever be a standard created to allow or disallow a particular style would be anything but a big legal mess. Natives in many countries create "dot art" so are they stealing from each other?

Just no way to sort this out other than really obvious cases.
 
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Rev. Hellh0und

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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lol looking for ways to be offended. Perhaps she just liked the art and made her own version of it. These people better never come to new york city, we have mexican bagel shop owners, Jewish pizza shops. Muslim chines food restaruants, (all cooked by south americans), oh and a mexican fish and chip shop.


What were we talking about? I'm hungry.


Telling someone they cant do or wear something because its "cultural appropriation" is racist if you think about it.
 

Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
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Ohio
lol looking for ways to be offended. Perhaps she just liked the art and made her own version of it. These people better never come to new york city, we have mexican bagel shop owners, Jewish pizza shops. Muslim chines food restaruants, (all cooked by south americans), oh and a mexican fish and chip shop.


What were we talking about? I'm hungry.


Telling someone they cant do or wear something because its "cultural appropriation" is racist if you think about it.
But if you replicate Taco Bell's exact formula for tacos then sell it, you're in violation of stealing intellectual property laws of some sort, no?
 

Ian Jeffrey

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But if you replicate Taco Bell's exact formula for tacos then sell it, you're in violation of stealing intellectual property laws of some sort, no?
Only if Taco Bell has a patent. And one does not patent artwork. It can hypothetically be copyrighted (a different area of IP law), but a style cannot be.
 

Rev. Hellh0und

Former Staff
Jul 2011
73,819
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Somewhere below 14th and East.
But if you replicate Taco Bell's exact formula for tacos then sell it, you're in violation of stealing intellectual property laws of some
sort, no?

If you steal the formula, yes.


but if you make a taco that tastes just like it, no.


Why anyone would want to do that is beyond me, but I digress. ;)
 
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Rev. Hellh0und

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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Somewhere below 14th and East.
Only if Taco Bell has a patent. And one does not patent artwork. It can hypothetically be copyrighted (a different area of IP law), but a style cannot be.

If one stole the exact formula that would be theft of some sort. if one guesses it, no.
 

Tedminator

Former Staff
Jun 2010
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Aboriginal art industry says this work in Ricky Gervais's new series amounts to 'cultural theft

The British comedian's series, After Life, has been widely viewed around the world, holding the number-one trending spot on Netflix since its release last week.
Gervais's character's living room is seen frequently throughout the program and features a large dot-painting resembling art produced in remote Aboriginal communities in central Australia.
Commenting on social media, fans were excited to track down the Indigenous artist whose work had hit the big time, but that quickly turned to disappointment.
It emerged the work was done by a female English painter who instead replicated the style of Aboriginal art.
"It is a strong image … it belongs to the Papunya style, " said Punata Stockman, chairperson of the Papunya Tjupi art centre.

It's an interesting debate, but I would say no matter who appropriates such an artistic style, it still belongs to the unique Papunya community. Any alien artist who adopts or mimics this style is doing so for artistic expression and, possibly, for pecuniary gain. That being so, the only difference I can see is relative value between who created the art, those of Papuan provence being the more valuable of course.
The show's set production probably went with the cheap reproductions. Art buyers and collectors can always get the authentic stuff if they want the real thing.
 
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The Man

Former Staff
Jul 2011
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I wrote about this kind of stuff before: Cultural appropriation can be beautiful lol

Not exactly same, since the lady in my case is at least from the region in question and married to someone from the culture... But, still, if it's done in a respectful way (rather than mocking or whatever), it should be ok IMHO