The Turner Prize-winning artist Sir Anish Kapoor has filed a lawsuit against the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the US. Kapoor accuses the right-wing organisation of copyright infringement for using an image of his Chicago sculpture ‘Cloud Gate’ in a propaganda video.
According to the complaint filed in US District Court in Illinois, the organisation has refused to remove the clip. The lawsuit is targeted at the US gun lobby. “These sadly are times in which it is urgent for us all, in whatever way we can, to stand up to the dark and aggressive forces in society that seek, out of fear and hatred, to lead us back into a primitive, paranoid, and defensive worldview,” Kapoor revealed in a statement.
The artist is seeking $150,000 in damages ‘per instance’ of infringement and plans to take the case all the way to the high court if necessary. Last March, Sir Anish demanded the NRA remove images of his Cloud Gate sculpture from a video promoting the lobbying organisation. The images were not removed.
The work of art appears in a brief clip which references the city’s most famous resident, former President Barack Obama. The video is narrated by the NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch a reactionary conservative talk radio host.
Sir Anish spoke out, condemning “the NRA’s nightmarish, intolerant, divisive vision” that “perverts everything that Cloud Gate — and America — stands for.” “It plays to the basest and most primal impulses of paranoia, conflict and violence, and uses them to create a schism to justify its most regressive attitudes,” wrote Kapoor. “Hidden here is a need to believe in a threatening ‘Other’ different from ourselves.” ( Read the Full statement below)
“Last year an image of my work Cloud Gate (in Millennium Park Chicago) was used without my consent in a politicised advertisement for the National Rifle Association (NRA), entitled The Clenched Fist of Truth. The NRA’s ‘advertisement’ -as they describe the video on their own website – seeks to whip up fear and hate. It plays to the basest and most primal impulses of paranoia, conflict and violence, and uses them to create a schism to justify its most regressive attitudes. Hidden here 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. Recent shootings in Florida, Las Vegas, Texas, and a number of other towns and cities make it more urgent than ever that this organisation is held to account for its ongoing campaign of fear and hate in American society.
Cloud Gate reflects the space around it, the city of Chicago. People visit the sculpture to get married, to meet friends, to take selfies, to dance, to jump, to engage in communal experience. Its mirrored form is engulfing and intimate. It gathers the viewer into itself. This experience, judging by the number of people that visit it every day (two-hundred million to date), still seems to carry the potential to communicate a sense of wonder. A mirror of self and other, both private and collective, Cloud Gate – or the ‘Bean’ as it often affectionately referred to -is an inclusive work that engages public participation. Its success has little to do with me, but rather with the thousands of residents and visitors who have adopted it and embraced it as their ‘Bean’. Cloud Gate has become a democratic object in a space that is free and open to all.
In the NRA’s vile and dishonest video, Cloud Gate appears as part of a montage of iconic buildings that purport to represent ‘Liberal America’ in which the ‘public object’ is the focus of communal exchange. Art seeks new form, it is by its nature a dynamic force in society. The NRA in its nationalist rhetoric uses Cloud Gate to suggest that these ideas constitute a ‘foreign object’ in our midst. The NRA’s video gives voice to xenophobic anxiety, and a further call to ‘arm’ the population against a fictional enemy.
The NRA’s nightmarish, intolerant, divisive vision perverts everything that Cloud Gate – and America – stands for. Art must stand clear in its mission to recognise the dignity and humanity of all, irrespective of creed or racial origin.
Gun violence in the United States affects every citizen of your country-all religions, all cultures, all ages. The NRA’s continued defence of the gun industry makes them complicit in compromising the safety of the many in favour of corporate profit. I support Everytown for Gun Safety and their efforts to build safer communities for everyone across the United States.”
Artlyst, 20.06.2018 : extract from “Anish Kapoor sues NRA over video infringement”
Image : Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate, known as “The Bean”, Millenium Park, Chicago. Photo by Matt Robinson via Flickr.