Monday, 25 August 2008

William Kentridge and the fame name game

According to the Beeld newspaper of 25 August, a young South African artist has successfully applied to the Department of Home Affairs to change her name from something perfectly ordinary to William Kentridge, and now proudly displays an ID document bearing her photograph but the name William Kentridge. Her reasons - he is famous and 'she will feel successful if she is famous'. Her argument - Stella McCartney achieved success because she already had a foot in the 'fame' door thanks to her father. Fame comes from fame, and if you don't have it, you can adopt it.
What Kentridge thinks of this is not reported. Neither are the 'good and sufficient reasons' that she had to provide to the Department in terms of s26(2) of the Births etc Act 51 of 1992.
The artist announces that her change of name is 'the logical result of playing around with ideas about authenticity, legitimacy, intellectual piracy, copyright, imitation, counterfeiting and branding'.
So far, while this appears to be an instance of infringement of personality rights, so far she doesn't appear to have infringed any intellectual property rights. But she had better not sign any of her artworks!

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