The New Appropriating


In response to the world’s general assumption that James Turrell was heavily involved in Drake’s video for “Hotline Bling,” the seminal light artist has come out with a formal statement that he did not, in fact, have anything to do with Director X’s portrayal of what look like direct copies of some of his most famous pieces. Employing some of Drake’s language himself, Turrell announced on his lawyer’s blog, “While I am truly flattered to learn that Drake f—ks with me, I nevertheless wish to make clear that neither I nor any of my woes was involved in any way in the making of the ‘Hotline Bling’ video.”

Although Director X remains firm in his claims that the video reflects “his” style, Turrell’s statement has sparked some virulent debate about what appropriation means once it claims high art, with an article in Gizmodo saying,

“F—king” must be the new “appropriating.” Music videos are known for borrowing concepts from film and TV for sure but this is a little different—most of Turrell’s art isn’t even allowed to be photographed.

Check out images from the video set alongside pictures of Turrell’s pieces at Hyperallergic, and read an account of the debate via the Washington Post.

Liz Wood is a freelance editor, fiction writer, and current student in the NYU MFA program. More from this author →