Artist chal­lenges Cold­play

Manukau Courier - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - EMILY FORD

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.

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