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  • Jun 19, 2020

Indonesian Selfie Theme Park Sued By Artist’s Estate

Left: outdoor attraction

The estate of the late performance and installation artist Chris Burden has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Rabbit Town, a self-proclaimed “selfie destination” theme park in Bandung, Indonesia. One of the park’s outdoor attractions, named Love Light, features dozens of white streetlights densely placed in a grid formation closely resembling Burden’s Urban Light (2008). The latter is a large-scale public artwork comprised of 202 repurposed antique lamps installed at the entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Burden’s estate contacted Rabbit Town at the beginning of the park’s operation in 2018 to address the alleged imitation, and even considered the possibility of offering the park a post-facto license, according to ARTnews. When the park remained unresponsive, the estate decided to pursue legal action. After contracting Indonesian law firm Ivan Almaida Baely & Firmansyah and going through the approval procedure for a foreign plaintiff, a lawsuit was filed on June 4. The hearing took place on June 18. 

Yayoi Shionoiri, executive director of the estate, stated that Urban Light took “artistic creativity, time, energy, and expense,” and that the park has “never asked for permission to use the copyright of Chris Burden . . . his rights as an artist need to be protected.” In a press release, the estate revealed that it is calling for the removal of Love Light, an apology from Rabbit Town, and compensation for “both material and immaterial losses.”

Burden is well known for his pioneering body performance works, such as Shoot (1971), where he arranged for a friend to shoot him in the arm with a small rifle from approximately five metres away, at F Space, Santa Ana. He has also created numerous iconic installations, including a kinetic sculpture of a contemporary city, Metropolis II (2010), also displayed at LACMA.

Rabbit Town has been criticized for replicating celebrated artworks by Burden and other artists, as reported by The Guardian shortly after its opening. These include attractions that look similar to Yayoi Kusama’s interactive installation of room of colorful dots, Obliteration Room (2002– ), and Colette Miller’s angel wing murals (2012– ).

The park was opened in January 2018 by Henry Husada, chief executive and chairman of hospitality management company Kagum Group. It currently operates under Wisata Selfie, which also manages three other such theme parks in Bandung. 

Ashlyn Chak is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific

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