Artwork: Julian Charrière / And Beneath It All Flows Liquid Fire, 2019. Written by Àngels Miralda.
On the 27th of January, Swiss artist Julian Charrière published a video of his work And Beneath It All Flows Liquid Fire (2019). The image features a three-layered fountain ablaze with flames against a dark background. In the caption he reveals that Instagram users tagging him on a recent campaign by the luxury fashion brand Zadig & Voltaire had alerted him to the striking resemblance of this piece to the company’s current marketing campaign.
Launched on the 19th of January 2023, the fashion company’s four-layered fountain is similarly engulfed in flames against a dark background that is more heavily manipulated than Charrière’s. As of this article, Zadig & Voltaire had meticulously deleted all mentions and tags to Charriére from their Instagram account, but they are still visible under the public post of Cecilia Bönström - the designer of the season’s collection.
The video work was shown to large audiences only last summer when it formed part of a collateral exhibition of the Venice Biennale organised by Parasol Unit.1 It was also shown at the major art fair Art Basel Miami Beach by Sean Kelly Gallery.2 Charrière is known for his large-scale video installations about the vastness of geology and climate change that dwarf our human perspective. His most recent works have also been exhibited in last year’s Lyon Biennial “Manifesto of Fragility.”3
Julian Charrière stated: “I have never been contacted by this brand and must clearly state that I have not given any permission. I only discovered this campaign a few days ago, when people reached out to me about it and started tagging me. As of now there is no resolution on this matter and it seems that the company started deleting every comment mentioning my name under any of their posts and reels.”
The fashion company has so far not made any public statements - but the issue raises clear questions of artist’s copyrights for a work and artist with huge visibility in France where the company has its registered headquarters. The post has been shared by artists with international reputations such as Olafur Eliasson and Kendell Geers. Artist’s professions are their creativity, so such a case has an implication for all creative work in terms of artist’s copyright and authorship.