A paraphrase is an interpretation, elaboration and variation of an earlier work of art. It is common in literature, music as well and art.

Loaning and cross-fertilization is a part of the creative process but where does the line go between a paraphrase and a copy? All creative processes are built on the reconfiguration of other shapes, expressions and experiences but it is not always easy to see what the inspiration behind it is.


During the autumn of 2017, students have been working on creating artistic interpretations of a feather crown from Karajá in Brazil. The students are taking the programs in textile, ceramics and jewelry art at HDK. During the course they have discussed cultural and artistic appropriation. How can a work of art relate to issues that concern respect and interpretative prerogative?

The issues are complex. The approaches to them vary along with the chosen entrance to the object. A common link is the genuine interest in the people behind it, and the attempt to approach it from common interests such as design, craftsmanship or rituals, in order to find whatever, it is that creates a bridge and concatenates through both time and space.


Around the turn of the 21st century part of the Brazilian Kayapó village of Môikàràkô was destroyed by fire and many of its feather headdresses were lost.With a major festival about to take place, an alternative had to be found, so a plastic straw headdress was used, the po-re. Traditionally Kayapó visitors to other groups, often brought back ornaments unknown to the Kayapó and began making and wearing them. If the new ornament aroused any interest among villagers, the person who had imported the ornament had the exclusive right to transfer it to his family members. Like the feather headdresses, the straw version may only be made by someone who has acquired the ritual privilege to do so.