02 May 2009

Annals of Fair Use: Douglas Crimp

"Q: How does this show relate to the Shepard Fairey controversy?

A: These were among the artists who tested the copyright laws and the whole notion of appropriating images became a kind of discourse, so younger artists could pick up on it very easily.

Q: Do you think the Fairey controversy is making a mountain out of a molehill, because we've already established the appropriateness of this type of use by artists?

A: No, because copyright is still a huge legal issue. I myself have huge issues with the notion of "fair use"---whether or not a critic should be able to publish an image without having to pay huge rights fees or, for that matter, to clear the text with the estate of the artist to make sure that they control what can be said. I think that copyright comes into conflict with critical discourse."
This exchange comes from an interview Douglas gave at the opening of a current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition The "Pictures Generation, 1974-1984" focusing on artists who "worked in all mediums—photography chief among them—to explore how images shape our perceptions of ourselves and the world." Douglas was the curator of the early (1977) exhibition of this work mentioned in the Met press release. I think he is right on point in his qualms regarding "fair use."

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