Artist challenges Coldplay
Coldplay and Beyonce’s controversial music video has sparked an artist’s fury about cultural appropriation.
Shot in India and filled with Bollywood references and Holi festival colours, last year’s Hymn for the Weekend
video created online debate for its stereotypical portrayal of South Asia.
That was certainly the case for Bepen Bhana, who’s now featuring it as part of an exhibition at tara’s Fresh Gallery called Hey Bey - Hymn for the Weak End.
He’s using oil paintings to depict stills from the video, which he says is four minutes of South Asian cliches, with the hope of igniting conversations about cultural appropriation.
‘‘I wanted to do something about it. It antagonised me and I was really interested about the debate that was happening online,’’ Bhana says.
‘‘It irritated me that they were taking these cliches and putting them in the video, taking them out of context.’’
Hymn for the Weekend was released in 2016, and Coldplay travelled around India for the video, with guest vocalist Beyonce dressed up as a Bollywood star.
It was heavily criticised online for its cultural appropriation, which fired Bhana up and resulted in him creating an exhibition on it, which he’s been working on for 18 months.
He says he can’t stand Coldplay’s music, and was angered by their portrayal of Indian stereotypes like levitating gurus, slum dogs, and throwing coloured powder.
Raised in New Zealand, Bhana was one of the first Indian students to go through art school when he studied in the 90s.
Working in painting, he has a doctorate of fine arts from Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland and has exhibited widely.
He’s proud to see more Asian, Pacific, and Ma¯ori artists in New Zealand and hopes his exhibition will bridge cultural gaps.
‘‘Fresh Gallery itself is in a really interesting location . . . it’s a congregation of different backgrounds and cultures.
‘‘There’s quite a lot of youth here so I’m hoping people will recognise Beyonce and it will bring them into the gallery.’’
Hey Bey - Hymn for the Weak End exhibition opens on September 15 and runs until October 21 at Fresh Gallery in
tara Town Centre.
Bhana uses oil painting to depict stills from the Coldplay video for Hymn for the Weekend.