With the arrival the “Yoü and I” video last week, we have hit a historic moment in Lady Gaga’s bewildering career. The tense gap between the video’s visuals and its music has hit all time chasmic proportions — an avant-garde bondage mermaid surgery drag medley psychotically edited to a Taylor Swift-like rocky country tune. This chasm is, perhaps, only second to the one between Gaga’s “Born This Way” dance anthem and the clusterfuck of video art rip-offs that supported it.
Wait. Let’s not be too harsh here. There is a certain ruthless curatorial skill involved in the diva’s pillaging of existing cultural artifacts, stripping them of their original meaning, slicing and stuffing them into her glossy oeuvre. The result? A worshiped pop icon with documented interest in contemporary art playing Dr. Frankenstein on herself in front of the world. It’s kind of hard to look away, no matter how harshly some of us want to rant. The more we look, the more of these “artist rip-offs” we notice. Here are a few of her best hits, but we’re sure there are more. Care to join in on the fun?
Originally, the concept of “Yoü and I” was Gaga trekking from New York to Nebraska, on foot, to find her boyfriend. “I’m walking with no luggage, no nothing. It’s just me, and my ankles are kind of bleeding a little bit, and there’s grass stuck in my shoes.” The final result was no where near carrying that plot line across, but it could have stemmed from performance art’s cougar mama Marina Abramović, an artist Gaga has frequently talked about and whose retrospective at MoMA she visited. There was this little video piece in there called The Great Wall Walk, a documentation of Abramović and her soon-to-be-ex partner Ulay walking towards each other across the Great Wall of China… Déjà vu?
Spotted by us earlier, the similarities between Gaga’s weathered, mud-splattered, ruined fancy footwear and Marilyn Minter’s — seen here peddling Jimmy Choo — are pretty on point.
“Born This Way” is one big can of goopy worms, but just cracking it open reveals this triangled bit of psychedelic Egyptian imagery… similar to transgressive cinema filmmaker Kenneth Anger’s intro to Lucifer Rising.
Maybe Gaga saw ‘Ye’s Marco Brambillo-directed “Power” and wanted to get her some of that, but, instead of commissioning, she just ripped it. Badly. Sure, visually it’s something alright. But the whole “birth of good and evil” bit is so much more eloquently illustrated when there’s a concept, like Brambillo’s original version of the layered, animated collage of recycled cinema clips.
Because just once wasn’t enough, Lady Gaga’s directorial hands borrowed Marco Brambilla kaleidoscopic Cathedral too. Two-for-one special?
It all builds upward towards Evil Gaga’s giving birth to a machine gun. Maybe she was going for a budget version of the gothy robo-horror of HR Giger?
Several instances in “Bad Romance” felt like a mish-mosh of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster 3 imagery. White on white in white? The synchronized dancers were a mix of those Barney gals from the Guggenheim Museum performance, but they were dressed as Slim Jims. Go figure!