Video for Kendrick Lamar’s ‘All the Stars’ Accused of Plagiarism

British-Liberian artist insists her work was stolen.

Kendrick Lamar and SZA's video for ‘All the Stars’ has come under fire today by artist Lina Iris Viktor and her representatives. ‘All the Stars’ is the lead single from the soundtrack for Black Panther, and Viktor was initially in talks with the producers of the movie to have her art featured. When the creative and financial terms of her involvement did not suit the artist, she pulled out, but she claims that work from her ‘Constellations’ painting series has still been used without her permission.

The patterned artwork, in a striking gold against black, is distinct. A letter from Viktor's lawyer Christopher Robinson was sent to Mr. Lamar’s label head Anthony Tiffith over the weekend, wherein Robinson criticises how the video “incorporates not just the immediately-identifiable and unique look of her work but also many of the specific copyrightable elements in the ‘Constellations’ series of paintings, including stylized motifs of mythical animals, gilded geometric forms on a black background, and distinctively textured areas and patterns, arrayed in a grid-like arrangement of forms.”

What both Viktor and her lawyer find most problematic, apart from the exploitation and lack of compensation for her work, is the more implicit and ironic meaning behind the move. In an interview, Ms. Viktor affirmed, “Cultural appropriation is something that continually happens to African-American artists, and I want to make a stand.” Black Panther is about black empowerment and the celebration of African virtues and culture, yet Viktor says she, an African artist, has been stolen from and taken advantage of.

Below is a piece from Viktor’s ‘Constellations’ series. No one can dispute the likeness.


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