Can You Trademark Culture?
This episode of the Africa Debate comes from Cape Town, a hub of design and fashion. We focus on the appropriation of traditional designs by mostly western high-end brands.
September's Africa Debate comes from Cape Town, a hub of design and fashion, where we focus on the appropriation of national or traditional designs, crafts and symbols by mostly western high-end brands and artists. We discuss when and how cultural borrowing turns into cultural appropriation.
Accusations of appropriation range from the Damian Hurst sculptures at the Venice Biennale - which he says are stylistically similar to celebrated works from Nigeria's Kingdom of Ife but critics say are carbon copies. To Lesotho blanket makers whose designs now adorn a very expensive Louis Vuitton shirt. Is it wrong? Isn't art and design all about drawing inspiration from other cultures? Or should certain African cultural symbols and products be off-limits to non-Africans - given the history of cultural looting by outsiders that has deprived African communities from controlling and benefiting from their own cultural heritage?
The BBC's Mayeni Jones and Pooneh Ghoddoosi discuss these questions with an audience of artists and designers.
Photo: THABO MAKHETHA (TMCOLLECTIVE)