Anish Kapoor sues National Rifle Association of America for Copyright Infringement
By Christie Wong
On June 19, it was reported that Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor has filed a federal lawsuit against the National Rifle Association of America (NRA). Kapoor alleges that the NRA has infringed on the copyright of his 2006 public sculpture Cloud Gate, commonly known as “the Bean,” by using a clip of the work in a 2017 video advertisement, “The Clenched Fist of Truth,” which appeals to audiences to join and donate to the organization.
Cloud Gate was registered by Kapoor with the United States Copyright Office in 2016. The artist’s lawsuit seeks USD 150,000 in reparations per infringement, as well as compensation for legal fees and the return of any profit made by the inclusion of his work in the video. Kapoor states that this legal action comes only after repeatedly requesting for his work to be removed from the advertisement, which the NRA failed to do.
In March, the artist had decried the NRA’s use of Cloud Gate without his consent in an open letter, released as a joint statement with the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. Kapoor’s sculpture, located in Chicago’s Millennium Park, appears as part of a montage featuring iconic buildings and city-scenes—including the Hollywood sign and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, among others—all while the narrator speaks about liberal America’s use of media to mobilize the public to protests and marches. Kapoor stated in his letter: “Hidden [in the video] is a need to believe in a threatening ‘Other’ different from ourselves. I am disgusted to see my work—in truth the sculpture of the people of Chicago—used by the NRA to promote their vile message . . . The NRA’s nightmarish, intolerant, divisive vision perverts everything that Cloud Gate—and America—stands for. Art must stand clear in its mission to recognize the dignity and humanity of all, irrespective of creed or racial origin.”
Kapoor’s lawsuit comes at a time when the US continues to debate the revision of gun control laws, spurred by mass shootings, most recently on June 17 at a New Jersey arts festival during which 22 people were injured, and one killed.
Christie Wong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.
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