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Ana Mendieta’s Estate is Suing Amazon Over ‘Suspiria’; Claims Copyright Infringement

The late Cuban-American artist’s estate alleges that Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming film copies her work

Luca Guadagnino, Suspiria, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Amazon Studios

Luca Guadagnino, Suspiria, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Amazon Studios

Luca Guadagnino, Suspiria, 2018, film still. Courtesy: Amazon Studios

The estate of the late Cuban-American artist Ana Mendieta has filed a lawsuit against Amazon Studios, claiming copyright infringement. The estate alleges that the upcoming film Suspiria (2018), distributed by Amazon and directed by Luca Guadagnino, uses images copied from Mendieta’s work.

Guadagnino has discussed Mendieta’s art as an inspiration for him in past interviews, according to Variety. He said that he wanted to remake Dario Argento’s original 1977 horror classic Suspiria – about a prestigious ballet school operating as a front for a coven of witches – as it was ‘soaked in the ideas of feminist art.’

But Mendieta’s estate claims that images that appeared in the initial trailer for Guadagnino’s Suspiria were copied from the artist’s works. An image of a woman’s hands bound with rope was said to echo Mendieta’s 1973 work Rape Scene, and a silhouette of a body on a white sheet reportedly referenced a 1978 work by Mendieta from her ‘Silueta’ series.

Since Mendieta passed away in 1985, her estate, which is managed by the artist’s sister and niece, has rejected commercial reproductions of her work. Following a cease and desist letter sent to Amazon in July, the aforementioned images were removed from the trailer.

The full film was later screened to a representative of the estate, who found that eight other images in the film carried similarities to Mendieta’s artworks. The estate’s lawsuit now seeks damages and a restraining order on Amazon using such images in the film.

Mendieta continually engaged with the subject of violence against women in her work. She was married to sculptor Carl Andre, who some still hold responsible for her death (the artist fell from a window to her death in 1985). Andre was later cleared of murder.

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