British-Liberian artist, Lina Iris Viktor, has accepted a settlement to conclude the lawsuit she filed against Kendrick Lamar and singer SZA, claiming that their music video for ‘All the Stars’, part of the ‘Black Panther’ soundtrack released in January 2018, used her work without permission.
The creators of the film reportedly approached Viktor about using her work but the artist said that she refused as the “financial and artistic terms offered for her collaboration were not acceptable”. Nevertheless, the video for the song was produced and according to the complaint, part of it “is so clearly a copy of the artist’s work”. The complaint was filed in February in a New York federal court where Viktor sued for a portion of the profits from the sale of the single and the movie’s soundtrack.
In Viktor’s ‘Constellation’ series, which was shown at the Armory fair in New York in March, golden geometric shapes float atop a black background, creating somewhat of a pattern. In some paintings, she features black female figures positioned in front of the pattern with the body painted in gold. In the ‘All the Stars’ video, Kendrick Lamar appears to walk through a sea of golden geometric shapes that also float against a black background, and past women similarly covered in gold, creating an almost identical aesthetic.
“The Infringing Video and the Movie promotes (and profits from) themes of black and female empowerment and the end of racist and gender exploitation, themes particularly topical in the current environment,” Viktor’s complaint stated. “Yet, in a bitter irony, the Defendants have ignored the wishes of the Artist, herself a Black African woman, whose life’s work is founded on an examination of the political and historical preconceptions of ‘blackness,’ liberation and womanhood.”
The terms for the settlement were not disclosed but an agreement was reached on December 20, according to court filings. This gives the parties 45 days to finalise the terms and details.
Mariane Ibrahim-Lenhardt, whose gallery Mariane Ibrahim Gallery represents Viktor, said that Viktor is satisfied with the terms presented. “I hope Lina will stand as an example for other artists regarding the importance of protecting their creations,” Mariane said.
The Black Panther movie was a major phenomenon of 2018, breaking ground in numerous ways and earning over $1.35 billion worldwide. The song ‘All the Stars’ was also a major hit, earning nominations for four awards including record and song of the year, at the 2019 Grammy Awards, to be announced in February.
Viktor’s first museum solo show is currently taking place at the New Orleans Museum of Art (until January 6), which explores the overlooked links between the southern US city and Liberia. Her next exhibition is due to open in August at Autograph London.