This post isn’t about dance but having just performed in Edinburgh alongside the very talented Matthias Sperling whose Riff deliberately samples and reworks excerpts from the choreography of William Forsythe, Shobana Jeyasingh and Laila Diallo, I have been thinking about influence, mimicry, borrowing, plagiarism, and creative appropriation. In the age of audience engagement, mash-ups and user-generated content, I think there’s something I need to work out as an artist about my role in all this.
Persepolis came to my attention when the graphic-novel by Iranian-French emigré Marjane Satrapi, about her early life in Iran at the time of the 1979 Iranian revolution, was turned into an Oscar-nominated cartoon/film.
Persepolis 2.0 uses Satrapi’s black and white drawings but reorders them and adds new captions to tell the story of the disputed presidential elections in Iran and the protests which followed. The new version culminates in the death of the young protester, Neda Agha-Soltan.
The reworking effectively samples Satrapi’s original and uses it to tell a new, though not unrelated, story. It was done by two Iranians who live in Shanghai and Satrapi gave her permission for the reuse without actually endorsing the project.
I’m not sure whether the authors of Persepolis 2.0 (even the word author becomes anxiety-ridden in this context) are professional graphic artists or whether they are ‘amateurs’ who have been able to appropriate the skilled and evocative drawings of Satrapi, but as we know since Duchamp displayed the ready-made urinal, the artist is not defined by the skill of the maker.
Persepolis 2.0 is available to view and download at www.spreadpersepolis.com