May 2nd, 2008
So Paris Hilton, Louis Vuitton, a Sudanese Child and a Chihuaha walk into a courtroom…
Paris Hilton has come to be an icon of fame for the sake of it (move over, George Hamilton). While people may not be quite sure why she’s a celebrity, we do know that she’s known for being rich and famous.
Celebrities like Paris use accessories to provide branded testimony of their affluence and social status. Whether it’s pint-sized pooches or Louis Vuitton bags, what’s in and on the arms of celebutantes like Paris turns heads and elevates brands.
With her artwork, Danish artist Nadia Plesner poses this question: If Paris Hilton can attract so much media attention for toting status symbols such as expensive designer bags and little dogs, will the same tactics work for the suffering people of Darfur?
Is Nadia criticizing the tendency of the media to focus exclusively on the rich and famous rather than world issues? Is she using a tried and true method for gaining publicity for a cause she supports? Either way, Louis Vuitton is not happy about it.
Plesner claims the design is commentary on the media’s obsession with the rich and famous, and that its purpose is to bring attention to the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Although the profits from sales go to the charity Divest for Darfur, Louis Vuitton came out with guns blazing and sued the artist over a t-shirt.
It will be interesting to see what the court does. After all, art is controversial. (Well, not always...) We at CafePress are fully aware of the constant tension between artists (e.g., CP shopkeepers) and big name rights holders (e.g., Wal-Mart). Finding the proper balance between creative expression and intellectual property rights is never easy.
You can read more about the case here.