Within all facets of art today the legitimacy of copyright claims has arisen as a side effect of the ever-popular appropriation practices. With regards to intent, artists as notorious as Richard Prince and Jeff Koons have undermined originality by “transforming” works, a term under U.S. copyright law that allows artists to adjust meaning and aesthetics, therefore, freeing them of infringement. Often it is this notoriety that supersedes content allowing artists like Prince to scrape in near $150,000 at auction houses for sarcastically altered, oversized screenshots.
Even within the academic institution where ideas are rapidly boomeranging among students, Virginia Commonwealth University experienced its own issue on plagiarism concerning the slogan Rapists Deserve To Die, originally a sticker campaign transformed into a two-story banner by another student without peer consultation.
As in this case, where such a slogan deserves the spectacle when it’s almost impossible to not find a means of connecting, why don’t contemporary artists simply communicate with one another? When inspiration is clear and originality has long passed, the artist-to-artist interaction may result in the spectacular rather than overshadowing legalities, further pushing art from art and into commerciality.
As seen through Prince’s work, social media sharing has ironically only enabled artists to easier borrow from one another as New York-based artist experienced over his short film, Bunda Pandeiro first uploaded to Vimeo in 2012.
Featured in over 50 film festivals worldwide, The Body Concert explores the Brazilian-termed tambourine. Another way to call an attractive backside, tambourine addresses the butt as separate from the body, as butts usually are. Free of individual identity tied to race, gender, or orientation, Sampietro utilizes the body as autonomous instruments, already finely tuned in existence.
Paled down to a blackened background and played side by side Sampietro’s nude instruments illicit differing tones yielding a solely sound based character to each. With the focus on the body as sound, we lose focus on the body as its surface traits. The potency of each young adult figure against a steady but quick changing beat, created by the body itself, yields a hybridity between sound and body art that references the body as well as the self’s vigor as their own and as codependent entities.
Sampietro’s handling of the body as sovereign tools distanced from a sexual identity amplifies his work against that of percussionist Jorge Perez Gonzalez who in 2013 published Bottom Percussion to YouTube. Also utilizing tambourines as instruments Gonzalez focuses more on sound than the body, employing thong-clad performers, repositioning the body as societal objects rather than their own. Having never experienced issues of copyright anywhere but the states, Sampietro’s lawyer cited Gonzalez whose works became flagged. Both artists eventually reached a mutual agreement outside of court in which Gonzalez now provides a link in his videos to Bunda. Whereas Gonzalez identifies himself as musician maker above bodies in his films Sampietro’s envisioned opera trilogy positions the innocuous sensuality of the body as lead. Separate intentions with clear inspiration…
Writing by Amanda Acosta