Saudi Artist Ahmed Mater Sues Swiss Watchmaker Swatch For Plagiarism
Ahmed Mater’s Magnetism (2012) is emblematic of the vibrant new art scene emerging from the Gulf. The etching print, which exists in several versions, pictures a black cubic magnet neatly encircled by steel dust—a poetic evocation of the pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, and of the pilgrims’ undulating movements around its most sacred building, the Ka’aba.
This didn’t stop watchmaker Omega, part of the Swiss Swatch group, to appropriate Magnetism in one of its latest ad campaigns, replacing the Ka’aba with a Seamaster Aqua Terra watch. The Quotidien de l’Art reports that the artist never agreed to this commercial use and is now suing the group for copyrights and moral rights infringement via a Paris law firm. He has requested €1,337,500 in damages, as well as an injunction to stop using the image in France.