Friday, July 12, 2013

Queen: Freddie Mercury gorilla art update

Queen guitarist Brian May has provided an information update on the Freddie Mercury gorilla art statue controversy in Norwich, UK.

On Monday, organizers of Go Go Gorillas, a public art trail in Norwich, were contacted by Queen's manager Jim Beach on behalf of the Freddie Mercury estate.

Media reports said the estate claimed the suit worn by the gorilla breached copyright, and it asked the Freddie "Radio Go Go" Gorilla sculpture, which Norfolk artist Mik Richardson took three days to create, to be "taken off the streets” … and it was.

Now, after investigation the statue issue, the Queen guitarist has posted his thoughts and findings on the matter on Bri’s Soapbox.

“The organization that actually puts the whole scheme of 'painted statue animals' together is a company called Wild in Art,” he explained. “These guys are not in any sense a charity. They mount these projects on a purely commercial basis. The way it works is - these projects they create enable charities to make some money, as well as bringing visibility. So it was Wild In Art who produced this particular gorilla-shaped effigy, which they evidently had someone paint up in a yellow Freddie Wembley outfit and stick some teeth and a moustache on. Now: far be it from me to make an artistic judgement on this - you can form your own opinion - but when the model was first seen, a number of people thought it was a crude and insulting effort - probably to both Freddie and the Gorilla!”

“So when word of this got to Freddie's estate, they asked for an approach to be made to Wild in Art, to ask them if they'd have another go at the painting of the Freddie Gorilla,” writes May. “The way it was reported, it looked as if the MPT (Mercury Phoenix Trust) had 'blocked' the deployment of the statue altogether, but actually the issue had nothing to do with the MPT; plus it wasn't a block at all - simply a request for an update to the paint job, to which Wild in Art kindly agreed.”

“Now there were accusations of 'pettiness' in the media and on Twitter, but you have to ask yourself how you'd feel if suddenly people were making effigies of your dearly departed dad or son or brother, and you felt they were disrespectful,” May continues. “You'd want to feel you had some kind of a right to say yes or no, to protect his reputation. That's exactly what the people who run Freddie's estate do. They try to safeguard Freddie's reputation, just as if he were still around. They will pursue anyone who tells a lie about him, or does something which could impugn Freddie's integrity or image. So Freddie's estate were quite within their rights to ask that this 'portrait' be improved - especially since the company who created it stand to make a lot of money out of exploiting Freddie's likeness. Yes, the estate could have taken a more lenient view, but if they had, it would be open season. There would be nothing to stop any number of companies like this making Freddie Elephants or Antelopes, or whatever, distorting Freddie's features just as they felt inclined, and making loads of money from lots of well-meaning people who might well feel they were contributing directly to a charity.”

“So, in the light of all this, do we still think a bad decision was made? Well, please tell me, if and when the new repainted Freddie Gorilla takes the stand next week,” sums up the guitarist. “Either way, it won't go unnoticed. I'll also update the story a little more at that point, if I know more. OK?”

Queen Queen

See also:

Queen guitarist enters Freddie Mercury gorilla art controversy
Queen: Freddie Mercury gorilla art removed over copyright issues
Queen: Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert reissue due this fall
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Queen: Live At Wembley Stadium 25th anniversary edition reissue coming
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