I promised myself I was not going to write about Lemonade, but here I am shaking my head.
Why is everyone asking the same questions about Lemonade?
Who is Becky?
Did Jay really cheat?
Is Beyoncé paying homage to Pipilotti Rist?
Ok that 3rd one is pretty esoteric, but that’s what the art world is asking:
“Is Beyoncé’s Windshield-Destroying Stroll in Lemonade Based on This 90’s Art film?”
I think it’s rather cute that their only contribution to Lemonade commentary was an observational link between Beyoncé’s bat wielding, Cavalli wearing cat walk and Pipilotti Rist’s fanciful iron flowered frolic down the street in Ever Is Over All, her 1997 dual screen video installation. Both Beyoncé and Rist, playfully walk down the street clad in beautiful dresses in slow motion, then both proceed to smash the windows of cars parked in the street. Window smashing is nothing new in video, but the juxtaposition between both artists as “delicate”, “feminine” beings that transform a riotous act into something beguiling was a brilliantly smart commentary on power & feminism. In Lemonade the scene gave Beyoncé’s character a visual arch in telling her story.
1. Everyone who made that observation just parked the similarities there. Let me re-park some more:
2. Rist won a prestigious Golden Lion for that video. Beyoncé is being called a domestic terrorist that’s calling for race wars.
3. In Rist’s video a police officer looks on as Rist smashes the window; she gets a salute by the officer. Beyoncé lies on a sinking NOLA cop car in Formation and she’s criticized for being anti-police.
4. Commentary on Pipilotti Rist’s Ever Is Over All rests squarely on feminism, yet Beyoncé’s media criticism frequently takes a sharp right turn that veers the discourse far from a lucid artistic dialog.
After the 20th art world luminary in my Instagram feed pointed out the comparison to Pipilotti Rist, I looked at it for myself. Has anyone thought to ask Kahlil Joseph, the video visionary director behind Lemonade? If you are familiar with his work, his style is a distinct one, yet you can see his influences in his work. Joseph’s dual screen presentation of “m.A.A.d”in Double Conscience at MOCA last summer is very similar to Ever Is Over All so it’s clear to me that the team of directors for Lemonade were influenced by many artistic sources. For those willing to do a little more digging beyond flashy ledes & gossip, you will be rewarded with experiencing something new. I was. I’m sure that was the intent of so many that were hell-bent on isolating this one similar element of a visually stunning piece.
Maybe we should be asking ourselves why there’s such a disparity in our reactions to art?