Saturday, February 22, 2014

Appropriation and/or Doctorin' the Moss Part 2.0

From today's NYTimes (credit where credit is due):

Photographers Band Together to Protect Work in ‘Fair Use’ Cases

To many photographers, a federal appeals court ruling last spring that permitted Richard Prince to use someone else’s photographs in his art was akin to slapping a “Steal This” label on their work.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reasoned that as long as Mr. Prince’s work transformed the images into original art, he was not violating anyone’s copyright.

But photographers are pushing back against that interpretation. Several membership and trade organizations have banded together recently to press their cause in Congress and the courts.

More than half a dozen groups, including the National Press Photographers Association, Professional Photographers of America and the Picture Archive Council of America, have joined together to submit a friend of the court brief to support the photographer Patrick Cariou, after part of his case against Mr. Prince was sent back to a judge for reconsideration. That informal coalition is considering hiring a Washington lobbyist, said Victor Perlman, general counsel for the American Society of Media Photographers, and, last month, several of the groups sent representatives to meet with legislators, including members of a House of Representatives subcommittee. 
A photo by Patrick Cariou plus Richard Prince's work, “Graduation"
One photographer has also decided to pursue a similar court fight, despite last spring’s ruling. In December, Lois Greenfield, a dance photographer, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan, arguing that paintings of dancers a Texas artist made violated her copyright. But lawsuits are expensive and, therefore, rare. The focus now, Mr. Perlman said, should be on persuading Congress to change matters. “The courts have taken an approach to fair use that we do not believe was originally intended,” he said. “A lot of what’s going to have to happen in fair use is going to have to happen on Capitol Hill.”
Jill Pankey work beside Lois Greenfield’s photo

Technological advances, shifting artistic values and dizzying spikes in art prices have turned the world of visual arts into a boxing ring for intellectual-property rights disputes. Photographers, in particular, are complaining not only that their work is being stolen by other artists, but also that their ability to create new work related to their originals is also being compromised.

Mr. Prince, who is known for reworking imagery created by others, cut out pictures from Mr. Cariou’s book on Jamaican Rastafarians, titled “Yes Rasta,” and then painted them or juxtaposed them with other images. When sales of these works at Gagosian Gallery in 2008 topped $10 million, Mr. Cariou sued.

Mr. Prince, backed by much of the fine-arts establishment, argued that he did not break the law because of what is known as the “fair use” doctrine, which allows artists — and others — to use copyrighted work in certain circumstances. Mr. Prince said he was covered by fair use because he had transformed the originals into something new.

The Warhol Foundation, which filed a brief on Mr. Prince’s behalf, essentially argued that by merely changing the context — placing a work in a museum or a gallery — an artist can transform someone else’s creation. Think of Marcel Duchamp’s putting a urinal in an art gallery or Mr. Prince’s rephotographing magazine ads featuring the Marlboro Man.
That argument failed to convince District Judge Deborah A. Batts of Manhattan, who ruled in 2011 in favor of Mr. Cariou, unsettling artists, museums and dealers who warned that the decision would choke creative expression.

Last spring, her judgment was overturned by a judicial panel that found Judge Batts’s criterion — that, to be considered “fair use,” a new work must comment on or relate to the original — too narrow. The only requirement, the panel said, was that a reasonable viewer find the new work “transformative.” Mr. Prince’s testimony that he had not intended “to create anything with a new meaning or a new message” was irrelevant. In November, the United States Supreme Court refused to review the case.

Now it was the photographers’ turn to panic. “Fair use started out as an exception to copyright law,” Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers, said. “Now it seems that copyright is the exception to fair use.”
But Michael Straus, chairman of the Warhol Foundation board, cautioned that fair use “should not be read overly restrictively,” adding, “You don’t want to stifle creativity.”

Many copyright experts criticized the Second Circuit’s opinion for not saying how much transformation must take place before something is “transformative.” A complete reworking? An added smudge of paint?

Even the appeals court conceded that it was uncertain if five of the 30 collages and paintings made by Mr. Prince differed enough from Mr. Cariou’s pictures to qualify for the legally required transformation. The judges sent the part of the case dealing with those works back to Judge Batts and asked her to make a determination, but within the context of their expanded definition of fair use.

Hillel Parness, an author of the photographers’ brief in the Cariou case, said the point was to remind the court that even under the recently expanded interpretation of fair use, there are limits. Copyright holders have the “exclusive” right to make derivative works, which are defined as those that are “recast, transformed or adapted” from the original. Harry Potter, for example, is J. K. Rowling’s property, whether in the form of a book, a movie or a sequel.

“But if fair use were read as broadly as some suggest, it would destroy that right,” Mr. Parness said.
James Silverberg, an intellectual-property rights lawyer who has worked with American Photographic Artists, argues that if artists want to use someone else’s creation in their work, they should pay a fee. A movie based on a book may rake in millions, but the author is still compensated for her contribution, he said.

Mr. Osterreicher said the National Press Photographers have pushed for a small-claims copyright board to resolve the bulk of disputes, which usually involve only a few hundred dollars.

He said he is not expecting a legislative solution soon. He noted that the last copyright act was passed in 1976, and that “they started working on that in the 1950s, and so we got 1950s copyright law in 1976.”

I think you know where iskm stands, from the perspective of both a photographer and an artist ...  
Observe. Slow down. Shoot. Submit!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Photographer Series #3: kerenshotkatemoss

Valentine's Day has come and gone and we missed getting intimate with kate and each other, apologies. We here at iskm had a good reason ... we were busily engaged with Keren Moscovitch. That is no mean feet, ladies and gents as Keren is obsessed with people's secrets, especially the ones that take place in the bedroom!
The Other Woman, 2010: Keren Moscovitch

Her work investigates intimacy and relationships, and the ways in which the sexual and the spiritual intersect. Keren regularly collaborates with other artists to dissect the ways that relationships are built, and identity is formed.
Keren's monograph, Me Into You, was published in the summer of 2012 in which she chronicled her experiences in an open relationship. Not only that, her work was recently highlighted on!

Who else should have been working on an iskm submission on Feb 14!?!

iskm: How did you come to be featured on
KM (Keren Moscovitch not Kate Moss): One of Playboy's newest editors saw my work and contacted me to set up an interview. I was surprised! For a moment I was, as you say, conflicted.

iskm: I have heard two contrasting viewpoints as to Playboy's role in society: one idea is that it has brought to the mass market/media the idea that women exist to be the sexual objects, on the other hand some argue that magazines like Playboy have been instrumental in breaking down sexual conservatism. How did you feel that your work links to playboy's position in today's media? 
KM: My work celebrates what I see as true intimacy - people connecting with others, being vulnerable and transgressing expectations, as well as more deeply connecting with themselves. I have always considered Playboy to represent the antithesis of intimacy, wherein the female body is objectified and commodified. However, I decided to see what would happen if my work were seen in the context against which it rebels. It felt more empowering to join the conversation, add my voice to the discourse, than it would have to bow out. 

iskm: Do you think that sexual representations of women can, in fact, be liberating? 
KM: If you read Hugh Hefner's essay for Marvin Heiferman's Photography Changes Everything, you might be surprised to find out that the magazine was created not only to add eroticism to the mainstream but also to communicate that women like sex too! Just like my own work, the publication rejected the "fine art nude" that was sanitized through its formal beauty and devoid of the overtly sexual. There is no denying that Playboy turns women into sex objects, exists for the purpose of stoking male fantasy in a hetero-dominant world and celebrates an unrealistic body image. However, for its time, Playboy was (and perhaps can once again become) a progressive publication with a sex-positive attitude, and I can definitely stand behind that!

iskm: What did you to your chosen Kate Moss image and why?
KM: I knew I wanted to use the Playboy shots, being the most recent images of Kate and the ones that somehow connect most with my own work. Kate is, and always has been, a sex symbol, and the Playboy spread serves to emphasize the way that her image functions as such. My interest was to display her touching herself, feeling her own body - giving her body back to her. So, I digitally composited two images of Kate so that she is embracing herself, almost cuddling and stroking her own neck. I like the way her breast falls on her own torso, and tried to construct the image in a way that the sensuality of her own body against itself would be apparent. The interesting thing that happened when I started working with the imagery was the realization that in every photograph her body is displayed in a way that doesn't allow for her to interact with herself. She is always faced outwards, on display for the anonymous viewer. In the image I have constructed, she even embodies the stereotypical girl-on-girl fantasy. Her image, when multiplied, functions to obliterate her own agency in embodying self love, and amplifies her role as an entertainer, seducer and siren, disconnected from herself. This composite plays with the tension that exists in the schism between taking pleasure from one's own sexuality and enjoying the display of one's sexuality for an anonymous other. 

So, I didn't think it was possible to out-fantasize playboy, but here is Keren's iskm contribution:
iskm: How/why did you select the source image/s that you did?
KM: The two images that I chose were shot in a bedroom environment, with soft lighting and luxurious fabrics. I was attracted to the warm glow of the color palette and felt that she almost looked comfortable on that bed! I really wanted to play with the idea of Kate making love to herself, and bring the highly constructed commercial image back to the plane of actual human experience, at least as much as it would allow.
iskm: You are quoted in your interview with playboy as saying: "There’s something about the way sexuality is packaged and aestheticized and linked to fashion…my sexuality couldn’t be further from fashion. It’s so not even in that realm." How does this idea of fashion effect your work on your kate moss image?
KM: Fashion is all about image, appearance and perception. I wanted the perception to shift from the desire of the viewer to either possess or become Kate - depending on the person's gender and sexual orientation - to the viewer perceiving the relationship of Kate to herself. In fashion, the models are stand-ins for fantasy. I wanted Kate to somehow transcend fantasy.

iskm: Why do you think kate is so iconic? Is it because she sells an idea of sex and sexuality that is unattainable?
KM: I actually think it is Kate's vulnerability that makes her so iconic. I'm not sure if heroin-chic was so much about thinness as it was about frailty. There is a veil of glamor and polish that supermodels before her, like Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford had that she never quite embodied. To me, she always looked like a lost little girl, an impudent and delicate beauty. Maybe it was this waifish helplessness that attracted people to her.

iskm: Which photographer/s would you most want to most see involved in ishotkatemoss?
KM: Nan Goldin. So many overlapping ideas and experiences, and, well, honestly, I always want to know what she has to say! Also, Thomas Allen. He's really good at constructing new narratives out of existing imagery and subverting gender and sexuality. 

Wonderful. Thank you Keren. More information about Keren's work can be found at: