Hajar Benjida, a 23-year-old photography student based in the Netherlands, created the account in 2016, matching photos of Atlanta rapper Young Thug with similar-looking classical paintings. It started as a last-minute school assignment but has since snowballed into something bigger.
“It's very accessible, like, you don't even have to know [Young Thug], but people get to know about him,” Benjida told VICE, describing her work. “People get to know about historical art. The same way you analyze historical paintings is the same way I analyze Thug's photos. [...] And I happen to be good at that, so I just applied it to this project.”
Benjida linked with Young Thug’s record label, 300 Entertainment, and a New York-based production team to put the exhibition together, but even with that support, getting the idea to Miami Beach wasn’t easy. This year, Miami Art Week hosted over 1,300 exhibitions from all over the world. Most of them were sponsored by galleries, which makes Young Thug As Paintings — a project with no curatorial backing — a significant outlier. The idea was rebuffed by other art fairs before finally getting a green light from SCOPE.
VICE News went to Miami Beach to watch the exhibit unfold and get Young Thug’s reaction to seeing himself as fine art.
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