Magazine article Art Monthly

World of Copyright

Magazine article Art Monthly

World of Copyright

Article excerpt

Henry Lydiate, writing in this issue on his experience of art and law over an extended period of time (p45), notes certain 'givens'. Among these givens are stories of friction between art and law that are not tested in court, frequently because the artist does not have the money to mount a case, feels bruised by the way her intentions have been misconstrued, and/or, most commonly, failed to get something in writing at a crucial stage. It's this kind of story that has recently been unfolding at Sketch, London, following the inclusion of a video by Claire Hooper in an exhibition there in March and April. Hooper's World of Interiors is, or was, a work she made in 2006. It consists of rephotographed pages from the magazine (zooms and pans) and an accompanying voiceover, spoken by Dallas Seitz, 'a sexually charged lament to how we perceive and inhabit interiors'. The World of Interiors, a glossy magazine published by Conde Naste, is well known for the quality of its photography and its specialist insights into interior design, especially by means of glimpses inside private houses. Recent discussions between the artist and the magazine about the nature of the video, following its being shown at Sketch, broke down over the issue of infringement of the photographers' copyrights. The artist has been instructed by Conde Naste's lawyers that the work should not be shown again in public, that it should not be reproduced or copied, and that it should not be sold, given or otherwise distributed to a third party.

Hooper's work was first shown at Hollybush Gardens, London, in 2006. It was made with friendly help from Min Hogg, the founding editor of The World of Interiors, who brought the present editor, Rupert Thomas to that showing, where he complimented the artist--who explains that he said 'how delighted the photographers would be' with what she had done. Copyright permission had not been sought, and did not come up as a question, so the artist assumed that she had the magazine's blessing. Of course, she should have got it in writing. The script of the work explores, among other subjects, sexual desire shaped by exposure to pornography, ie by other magazines than The World of Interiors, and normative judgments of such desires. It needs to be said that no facile equation is being made by the artist between the top and the bottom shelf of the magazine racks, but this is not the kind of point that can easily be debated in law. …

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