Saturday, March 07, 2009

Fucked In The Art, Part One

This morning, I found out that a Queensland gallery had used an image of mine, Under And Over, from my Lake Eyre series, to promote a fund-raising exhibition. The invitation had been sent to a list of recipients that included several of my collectors. The image was also used, badly cropped, on a web site associated with the event. I'm usually pretty relaxed about how, where and why my work is reproduced, online and off. As is highlighted at the bottom of the right hand column of this blog, I'm a supporter of the ideals of Creative Commons – the words and images on this blog are all licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License – but that doesn't mean that I'm up for a free-for-all when it comes to my rights.
The way the Queensland gallery appropriated my image without permission and without any respect for the terms of the published Creative Commons license stuck in my craw. Firstly, the work was being used to promote a fund-raising event – the objective of which was to buy guns for a private girls' school's shooting club. This is not 'non-commercial' under the terms of the Creative Commons license and thus subject to my permission. Secondly, the image, which was downloaded from my web site, was low res', slightly blurred and placed within an unflattering design promoting not only the gallery but also the use of guns for sport (not exactly an issue to which I'm sympathetic – for the record, my image was intended to be ironic). I was given no opportunity to object to this. Finally, the image itself was altered by the addition of a strip of mismatched colour at the top. Even if one put this down to clumsy graphic design, it altered the image and was yet another breach of the conditions of my Creative Commons license.
I don't know the gallery's director well. I dealt with her briefly once, a few years ago, when she was learning the ropes at a gallery I was in the process of leaving. Today, when I called her to express my objections to the use of my image, she was dismissive and unapologetic. When I emailed her afterwards, specifying the ways in which she had breached my copyright, she offered an insincere apology and tried to assure me the invitation had not yet been sent out. Of course, it had – that's how it'd found its way to me via not one but several of my collectors. She then tried to 'stroke' me by telling me, "I'm a big fan of your work, and consequently, your fan base has grown as everyone loves the image."
I am not exactly an unknown artist who should be bloody grateful for any exposure I get. Quite the opposite. The series of works of which the image featured on the invitation was a part had been the subject of a nationally televised TV documentary and had toured several regional and national galleries. As far as I was concerned, she had callously and clumsily appropriated a widely recognised name (mine!) and image and exploited the existing, widespread interest in both for commercial gain.
And for the record, I don't give a toss if a gallerist or anyone else is a 'fan' of my work. I'm an artist, not a pop star or TV personality. I don't need to cultivate a 'fan base'. The interest of my collectors – and those of you who read this blog regularly – is a lot more complex and committed than that.
In the end, I sent the gallery director a much stronger, more insistent email, instructing her to 'cease and desist'. I copied it to the pit-bull-like, big city law partnership I use to escalate these sorts of battles for me. Less than ten minutes later, the gallery director offered a formal, public apology, albeit without being specific about how she would do this.
In the art world, as elsewhere, words are cheap.

9 comments:

Adeline Scout said...

Ms. Dooney,

I am glad you chose this subject for your latest post. I have been given permission to write an article about you for Complex's online magazine http://www.complex.com. It's a short piece and I wanted to include the photo of your studio posted on your blog Thursday, December 11, 2008. titled 'Daylight, No Saving Me'.

Would you approve of my suggestion for the magazine to get permission from you to use the photo? Would you be interested in seeing the piece I have written? I would be pleased for input. It is short (250 words) and written for the magazine's audience, male and urban.

Thank you very much,
Adeline Scout
www.ihavetoexperiment.blogspot.com

kikimarie said...

well, that sucks! it makes me sad to see how disrespectful people can be when it comes to using someone's work.

Anonymous said...

To me the last name Dooney sounds a lot like a stupid person's name. When I read your blog posts - nothing special with that, I am like a google spider trawling through information - I feel like you do not understand what life is about and instead take yourself, your art, and your life way too seriously.

you have forgotten what it is like to be a true artist. but perhaps you have never really known it - considering your work is flat and without life.

You said you appreciate comments from people that are not afraid of showing their identity - and yet when I disagreed with you in the past you censored and deleted my comments even though they were just critical of yourself and your art.

I still think very little of you - although enough to comment on your shit.

If you are serious about your artwork then perhaps you will rise to the challenge I have put to you time and time again in the past. instead of just sending vitriole and hate my direction, perhaps you can think about YOUR direction.

But as we both should know by this time... love me or hate me fuck you.

:)

Barbara J Carter said...

I am very glad you employ lawyers, and are able and willing to stand up for your rights. You go girl!

Hazel Dooney said...

"You said you appreciate comments from people that are not afraid of showing their identity - and yet when I disagreed with you in the past you censored and deleted my comments even though they were just critical of yourself and your art."

This is incorrect. It is rare that I do not publish comments. When I don't, I keep them on file for future reference, or in case they are needed in a legal case. I had already published various critical comments of yours, signed with your full name. I do not publish comments for the following reasons:

i) If they are overtly aggressive or sexually harassing.

ii) If they are a form of advertising.

Your unpublished comments fell into one, or both, of those categories.

Anonymous said...

All that vile blather, above, can only be from one person...

You'd think if his girlfriend, mom or dad had ever read the tripe he writes to you, they would intervene & get him some help... or at least turn him in to the proper authorities.

Thanks for posting his comments tho, Hazel...
I needed a good laugh today.

-M

fitzroyalty said...

WTF? WTF! WTF? Am I singing from the Jerry Springer musical score? These gallery people are retards. Set the lawyers to kill and engage the warp drive. I'm pleased you're holding them to account.

shanna said...

The most salient point in this post, Hazel, aside from your generosity with image use and your right to your rights, is this line,"And for the record, I don't give a toss if a gallerist or anyone else is a 'fan' of my work. I'm an artist, not a pop star or TV personality."

That makes me smile :)

(best to ignore the angry commenter above, I say).

cheers,
shanna

Jonathan A. said...

oh geeeze....well I'm happy that you took care of it. Although I am greatly disappointed with the way that the other side handled the issue. :D

as for the person telling you "To me the last name Dooney sounds a lot like a stupid person's name." ....really? grow up. How old are you?

hazel...i totally <3 the work :D