Music/Features

An art history student broke down the symbolism in Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s “Apeshit” video

June 18, 2018

Get ready to dig in.

It’s easy to get down about your degree when you’re swimming in a pool of debt and narrowing job prospects, but sometimes something comes along that makes those four years of exam-cramming worth it – like being able to use your degree to deconstruct Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s newest video.

The power couple dropped their video for “Apeshit” this past weekend (in addition to an entire freaking album), which features Bey-Z (is that their official couple name? It is now) turning a little art museum called the Louvre into a full-on party. Already an immediate banger, the video is also, for one twitter user, “the fulfillment of my art history degree.”

Heidi Herrera, who goes by @itsmeheidi_h on Twitter, put that art history degree to the test, using her knowledge to explain how the “Apeshit” video isn’t just a testament to the couple’s seemingly-indestructible union, but to having made it as black artists in white-dominated spaces:

Not only do the two assert their dominance amongst the larger history of art, they place themselves right at the top of that cannon alongside the Mona Lisa:

The video’s visual focus of placing Beyoncé and Jay-Z within the grander works of capital-a Art has larger concerns, however, as not only do the couple see themselves as a part of this collection, but as a force that seeks to demolish racialized and white-centric ideas of what art is and can be:

Herrera also pointed out how the visual allusions and recreations of a handful of famous works with black bodies serves to re-contextualize those works to confront a number of contemporary black issues, such as colonialism, police brutality, and hope in Trump’s America:

Though the rest of her incredibly thorough deconstruction of the dense messages “Apeshit” communicates through its usage of art can be seen on her twitter account, it’s already quite obvious, as Herrera so eloquently puts it, that “Apeshit is not only a brilliant celebration of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s success but a self-aware acknowledgment of their success in the face of historical/current oppression as well as an expression of gratitude to their predecessors who are too often forgotten.”

The next video from EVERYTHING IS LOVE hasn’t been announced yet, but it might be worth waiting until this album cycle is over before the next time you start regretting your degree.

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