American franchise Urban Outfitters have come under fire after a Reddit user posted a side by side comparison of their Ollie Reversible Indoor/Outdoor Rug with an artwork by the late Australian Indigenous Pintupi artist Mitjili Napurrula. In a corporate rendition of the “Can I copy your homework?” meme, both pieces are pretty much identical.
User alisonthemomnster exposed the chain, worth $1.82 billion (USD), on Thursday and the post quickly went viral. Within 24 hours, Urban Outfitters clearly went “oh sh&t” and obliterated the rug from their store, hoping no one would see. However, the internet wasn’t going to let that slide, no sir…
Oof, it’s going be a hard time explaining that one. Urban Outfitters have been accused of plagiarising the work of the late-Mitjili Napurrula, and the comparison speaks for itself.
Sadly passing away last year, the nationally renowned artist created the artwork in question with the motif of trees as the salient feature. This was done to represent the women’s side of her father’s dreaming from Uwiki country.
It seems the higher powers at every 14-year-old girl’s favourite store saw this stunning portrayal of culture and thought, “ah yes, something I want to stand on.”
One commenter raised the argument that this situation is cultural appropriation in its most inherent form.
“The basic designs and motifs are part of her culture, she learnt them from her parents and elders,” they write.
“They are, in western terms, the intellectual property of that group. So a company comes along, and without payment or acknowledgement, takes those designs and motifs and sells them as their own, devoid of context and meaning.”
Urban Outfitters are no stranger to accusations of plagiarism. Multiple artists, including Clarity Miller and Johnny Earle, have called out the company for stealing their work. The American Indian Navajo Nation also sued the franchise in 2012 after they repeatedly ignored requests to remove the word “Navajo” from their stock.
Reddit users were quick to join the discussion this time around. Check out the original post here.