Marco Brambilla, the man behind the “painting” that is Kanye West’s latest video, explained the work to the New York Times.
Kanye chose Brambilla after viewing his Civilization video installation in the elevators of the posh The Standard hotel in New York City. Civilization can be viewed here.
From The New York Times’ Vulture blog:
So what exactly is the piece?
Well, it’s a video portrait of Kanye. It starts with a very tight shot introducing him that’s kind of a reinvention of a neoclassical painting. It pulls back from the shot, without any cuts, and we reveal the video canvas, populated by all these characters who are depicted in various stages of undress and decadence. The iconography comes from Roman iconography, Renaissance iconography, and it connects to the sexuality of the music as well. As we reveal the setting for it, there’s a feeling of a moment of transition for him. A fall from grace, if you will. It visualizes power, and him as the icon as power, and then at the end of the piece it challenges the power that I set up at the beginning. It’s an elliptical piece of storytelling.
How did you guys end up using that kind of imagery?
He approached me via my gallery and he wanted to do something that wasn’t a music video. He wanted a video work that would accompany the music. I said, “That’s great, because I don’t do music videos.” I wanted to give it an epic feeling. The song feels very personal, but the orchestration and the production of the track is epic and I wanted to give it something hypersensational and exaggerated.
Kanye had laid low after the Taylor Swift incident, and I think people expected him to come back a bit humbled. Were you surprised that he wanted to do something this over-the-top?
That’s exactly what I like about his music. It’s the anti–Tiger Woods moment, you know? This piece is really about that. The new album is very personal, too, and the various tracks on the album suggest things that have happened to him. This is the most epic track. It was a really great opportunity to show a moment of defiance and a moment of self-awareness. It’s that combination that he has as an artist that’s very peculiar.
You’ve said you’re expecting a bit of controversy from the piece. Are you gearing yourself up to defend it?
Look, I think it’s a very honest piece. It’s definitely larger-than-life and it’s definitely a strong kind of statement, and it ties into his persona and it ties into his reputation and everything else that will be commented on will be commented on through the filter of how people perceive his persona … he’s brash, and uncensored, but it has a self-awareness. And it’s not just constructed. A lot of very popular mainstream artists are products of record companies and marketing companies, and any time anyone can stand outside of that, that’s interesting. He’s one of the few people left that’s making work that he believes in.
Do you have anything else planned with Kanye?
We’re talking about it. We’re talking about doing more projects.
And I understand you’ve heard that Dark Twisted Fantasy is the name of the album?
I’ve heard that’s the latest name. I would say not locked-in, and it would probably not get locked until closer to the time of the album release.
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