I Object

Monday, February 9, 2009


Apologies for continuing to harp on the Shepard Fairey/Mannie Garcia situation, but I think the underlying issues are of vital importance to photographers. I promise I'll get back to posting about interesting photography shows, new photo books, wacky web shots, Kate Moss updates, and random images that cross my path. However ...

An interesting piece by Jonathan Melber in the Huffington Post today on the legal issue of "fair use". As I was reading it, I figured out what irks me so much. There's nearly always a suggestion in these discussions that if you don't back the artist (as opposed to the photographer) you're trampling on their freedom of expression. In these situations (not all of which went to court) - Jeff Koons and Andrea Blanch, Richard Prince and the original photographers of the Marlboro Men campaign, Warhol and Frank Powolny (who took the Marilyn Monroe photograph), and now Fairey and Garcia - there's an implication that defining yourself as an "artist" as opposed to a "photographer" makes you more important and gives you special privilege. It also implies that a straightforward photograph is of lesser significance or value than a painting or conceptual work of art.

I object.

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