Malaysian Artist Forced To “Cease Using” Vivy Yusof’s Image In His Art
And the plot thickens!
It seems like 2020 is not Vivy Yusof’s year. She’s once again made headlines, with The Malay Mail being the first to report the issue. Turns out the 33-year-old entrepreneur and co-founder of both FashionValet and The dUCk Group, Vivy Yusof, may have sent her legal representative to warn a local artist against using her image in his art “without her permission”.
The artist in question, Izat Arif, went on to share a screenshot of the “cease and desist” email from Vivy Yusof’s rep alongside the caption,
All (accusations) of plagiarism are equal, but some (accusations) of plagiarism are more equal than others.”
The image in question depicts 4 of the same image of Vivy’s controversial dUCk campaign alongside Izaf Arif’s caption,
At the end of the day, art is not essential pun.”
Arif has removed the image from his Instagram profile. The artist, who is known for his ironic commentary and take on everyday life using videos, drawings, and readymade objects in intricately layered installations.
Speaking to Likely, Arif has said that the reason he shared the screenshot of the email was to educate and inform people of their rights.
“When I first saw the email, I was confused. I didn’t understand it – because the allegations weren’t correct. I’ve been appropriating images since I finished art school and it is a legitimate art form with a long history.”
For those who didn’t know, “appropriation art” is defined as “the practice of artists using pre-existing objects or images in their art with little transformation of the original”. And while appropriation in art is controversial, it is also very commonly misunderstood. “Appropriation art” allows for the original image to shine through, making it easy for people to recognise the origin of the image. This then allows artists to add their own context to the image. With this art form, artists are not stealing or plagiarising, instead, they are expressing their own opinion and comments through the reinterpretation of the image.
Arif explained that the theme of the piece coincided with one from his collection that serves as a reflection of the MCO period.
View this post on Instagram
We asked artist Izat Arif (@izatarifsb) to come up with a set of illustrations that reflected his observations and musings during the MCO. Izat made the following works, complete with his trademark humour. __ Images: RMO = RM 0, No. 1-4, Graphite, Vinyl Sticker and Digital Print on Paper, (2020). __ #izatarif #MCO #MCOart #CMCO #artforreflection #bujang #facemask #nopollution #duitraya #ilhamgallerykl
He also shared why he chose to publicly address the issue by posting a screengrab of the email,
I exposed this to give voice to the smaller people, to reach people who have been belittled and this might inspire them to find their own voice.
He has received a multitude of support across social media. People who understand his art form have stood up against the accusations made by Vivy’s rep., while those who see the irony in the situation have also taken to Twitter to voice their disbelief.
“In his usual snarkiness the drawings/collages depict things and people who really really ask to be part of the narrative.”
“Other people cannot use her picture but when she uses the concept and design of smaller businesses (sleepylllama), it’s okay. I swear I don’t understand how Vivy has a law degree. She has ZERO critical thinking.”
Vivy’s alleged plagiarism in both the issue with Sleepylllama’s designs and Malaysian brand Ilham Echenta (who accused Vivy of copying its range of turban designs) has raised public ire against the entrepreneur, prompting individuals like the prominent model and TV host, Alicia Amin as well as Syaza Yunos, a local designer who has had her work plagiarised, to speak up. In both cases, people found that the products (and in the case with Sleepylllama, the concept as well) released by Vivy Yusof had multiple similarities.
There is a lot of grey area in terms of copyright and appropriation, with the law being unable to keep up with the everchanging landscape of creation. Technology has presented different opportunities for creation and creativity but, it’s a fine line to walk. It is important to protect the economic rights of the copyright owner, especially when it comes to reproduction, distribution, redistribution and so on. However, it is the law’s job to tackle this grey area in order to achieve a fair balance of interest for both the copyright owner to his/her own work and the public who may want to use that work. And, at the end of the day, we can only hope for a fair balance of interest.