Queen Bey and her husband transcend demographic distinction. They are a global cultural phenomenon – and with APES**T they’ve suddenly made the Louvre a place your kids can’t wait to visit.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z dropped a video for the single “APES**T” on Saturday. As you might expect, it lit up the internet; the power couple’s ability to excite their audience is how they’ve reached the pinnacle of pop-culture success.
Incidentally, that success (and wealth and power) is a big theme in the song. For example when Jay-Z raps “Motorcades when we come through/ Presidential with the planes too“. They’re a big deal, and they know it. And how they wield that power is a big deal.
In this case, they rented the Louvre. And for the video shoot they unleashed crackling choreography and surprisingly intimate moments in front of its priceless art and architecture. The significance of this act, in terms of power politics, by “exalt[ing] black women’s bodies and black love in a space that is itself steeped in colonialism and systemic oppression” is well-covered in this article from The Lilly.
For this politically charged reason (and because the song is the kind of pure fire you’d expect from the Carters) the APES**T video is in itself a potent work of art.
The Impact of Empress Bey
In one sequence we see a line of bodysuited black female bodies hold hands and fluidly gyrate in front of Jacques-Louis David’s massive canvas, “The Consecration of Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine on December 2, 1804“. This segment will undoubtedly change the way that this work will be viewed and discussed in the future. And is it a coincidence that Beyoncé is positioned right underneath Josephine as she’s being acclaimed Empress? Hardly.
Thus, the painting is no longer merely an artifact documenting a historical event; it’s a modern comment on Beyoncé’s significance to the cultural conversation. And if you don’t think there are people lined up in front of it right now to boomerang their own gyrations to their Instagrams, then you don’t know Beyoncé fans.
And this moment is just one example of the ways that the Carters and director Ricky Saiz impact the meaning of the artworks featured in the video.
For a more in-depth discussion read “Art History Experts Explain the Meaning of the Art in Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s ‘Apesh-t’ Video”.
Making the Louvre More Accessible
And as power and meaning are transferred from the Louvre – and the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, the Sphinx, etc… – to the players in the video, the significance is also transferred from Beyoncé and Jay-Z back to the Louvre.
With this one video, The Carters made the world of high art accessible to a whole new audience. At Tiqets we make culture more accessible by offering smartphone-ready tickets for museums and attractions. We want to make it easy for people to get to experience more in their adventures and travels. What we’re trying to do in a day-to-day way, they’re doing on a fundamental, conceptual level.
By showing one of the world’s most famous art museums (and one of our favorites) in this whole new light, they’ve reanimated the works and made them pop-culture relevant. If you’re a parent of teenagers and you’ve wanted to get your kids interested in the 2nd century BC sculpture Winged Victory of Samothrace… well, let’s just say you’ll never have a better opportunity than right now.
That’s a whole new – and very welcome – take on ‘making culture more accessible’.