Copyright infringement lawsuits seem to be flying all over the media nowadays. In the series of events where authorship rights are being challenged Anish Kapoor, one of Britain’s most prominent sculptors seems to be the latest victim. Just recently in Karamay, northwestern Chinese City a sculpture appeared bearing remarkable similarity to Kapoor’s Cloud Gate in the city of Chicago. British sculptor is outraged by the plagiarized sculpture and threatens to take legal actions against those responsible. He is also making an appeal to Chinese authorities and their lack of attitude towards plagiarism.
Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean” is one of Chicago’s most visited tourist attractions. The sculpture was unveiled in 2006, and since then became one of the landmarks of Chicago and the city’s Millennium Park. This stainless steel sculpture, one of Kapoor’s first public artworks served as more than an inspiration for the Chinese artisan who recently brought to life similar work commissioned for the town of Karamay, in China’s Xinjiang region. The Chinese installation is also made of stainless steel and it is supposed to represent an oil bubble a reference to the natural oil well in Karamay. This new sculpture is somewhat altered in design, as it has smaller bubbles surrounding it and lights projects installed inside. These alterations provide an excuse for Chinese officials to see their artwork as completely different and original, persistently refusing to acknowledge the forgery.
Although there are some who see this Chinese plagiarism as flattery, the winner of the Turner Prize is one of those artists who simply does not need another controversy to raise his popularity. For more than three decades, he has been one of the leading artists, renowned and celebrated internationally. Currently, his newest body of work on display in Italy and the retrospective exhibition of his works is on view at Château de Versailles in France. With so much of his artistry on display at the moment for public to enjoy, I guess it is unfortunate to see so much fuss is being raised over the falsified sculpture and the focus moving from the actual works of art.
In the age of appropriation, it seems as nobody actually cares about the authorship rights anymore and there are no legal ways of stopping infringements unless government officials take this problem seriously. In China it is even bigger issue than in the rest of the world as the specific piracy culture known as shanzai has been developing for years and there are no official laws strong enough to stand in the way of it. However, sculptor from the UK is decisive and said he won’t let this plagiarism go unpunished. Although Chinese officials refuse to give out the name of the person responsible, and seem to perceive the situation as a mere coincidence Kapoor is relentless in his decision and ready to file an official lawsuit, hoping that the Chicago Mayor will join in on the action.
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Plagiarized Cloud Gate in a city of Karamay. Via Reuters