June 11, 2003
Illegal Art In SF, July 2 - 25, 2003

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Artist Gallery is hosting the provocative exhibition, Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age, from July 2 to 25, 2003.

On Wednesday, July 2nd, an artist reception will take place at SFMOMA Artist Gallery, Fort Mason, Building A, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays 11:30am to 5:30pm.

Artists: Bill Barminski, Ray Beldner, Brian Boling, David Byrne, Enrique Chagoya, Heidi Cody, Michael Hernandez De Luna, Eric Doeringer, Kieron Dwyer, Tom Forsythe, Natalka Husar, Packard Jennings, Ai Kijima, Kembrew McLeod, Negativland, Aric Obrosey, Noel Tolentino, Diana Thorneycroft, Clare Rojas, and Tom Sachs, Laura Splan, Wally Wood, and Andrew Jeffery Wright

artists_gallery_barminski.jpg
Bill Barminski
Mickey Gas Mask, 2001
Latex rubber and cannibalized gas mask parts

From John Kuch (pho):

This traveling exhibition was organized by Carrie McLaren of Stay Free! magazine, New York, and opened last November to enthusiastic crowds in New York City. Illegal Art has been the subject of much favorable press attention
including the Chicago Tribune, International Herald Tribune, Wired, and National
Public Radio, among others. The New York Times called the exhibition "the most
thought-provoking event to attend this year". Illegal Art is sponsored by Stay
Free! magazine as well as the San Francisco Art Institute where a panel of
artists, scholars, and legal experts will convene on Thursday, July 3 from 6 to
8pm to discuss the exhibition and the related copyright issues. Additionally, a
series of "illegal films" will be screened at the Art Institute's Lecture Hall
at 800 Chestnut Street July 10, 11, 12 from 6 to 9pm.

Artists in the show include Bill Barminski, Ray Beldner, David Byrne, Enrique
Chagoya, Heidi Cody, Michael Hernandez De Luna, Packard Jennings, Aric Obrosey, Diana Thorneycroft, Clare Rojas, and Tom Sachs, among others.

Illegal Art explores what is rapidly becoming the "degenerate art" of a
corporate age: art and ideas on the legal fringes of intellectual property. Some
of the artists in the show have eluded lawyers; others have had to appear in
court. The show asked the question: Should artists be allowed to use copyrighted materials? Where do the First Amendment and "intellectual property" law collide?

What is art's future if the current laws are allowed to stand? The practice and
concept of "freedom of expression" is a timely topic in relationship to artists
and the current copyright laws. Loaded with gray areas, intellectual property
law inevitably has a silencing effect, discouraging art that comments on today's
culture.

Come view the exhibition at your own risk! Edward Samuels, a New York Law School professor and author of "The Illustrated Story of Copyright," estimates that at least half the Illegal Art exhibition is in violation of current copyright laws.

# # #

For complete event information, times and locations, visit the website of
www.illegal-art.org or www.sfmoma.org/museumstore/artists_exhibitions.html

=======================================

FACT SHEET

What: Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age


Who: Bill Barminski, Ray Beldner, Brian Boling, David Byrne, Enrique Chagoya, Heidi Cody, Michael Hernandez De Luna, Eric Doeringer, Kieron Dwyer, Tom Forsythe, Natalka Husar, Packard Jennings, Ai Kijima, Kembrew McLeod, Negativland, Aric Obrosey, Noel Tolentino, Diana Thorneycroft, Clare Rojas, and Tom Sachs, Laura Splan, Wally Wood, and Andrew Jeffery Wright

When: July 2 to July 25, 2003
Where: SFMOMA Artist Gallery, Fort Mason, Building A, San Francisco, CA
Gallery hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11:30am to 5:30pm

Events:

1) Reception, Wednesday, July 2nd, 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
At the SFMOMA Artists Gallery, Fort Mason, Building A, SF

2) Panel discussion, Thursday, July 3 from 6 to 8 pm,
SFAI Lecture Hall, 800 Chestnut St, SF Phone: (415) 771-7020

3) Film/Video screenings of Illegal Art films, July 18 and 19
Roxie Cinema, 3117 16th Street, SF, (415) 863-1087


For complete event information, times and locations, visit the websites of
www.illegal-art.org or www.sfmoma.org/museumstore/artists_exhibitions.html


# # #

For more information, interviews or images, please contact:

John Kuch p: 415-823-0480 e: jpkuch@yahoo.com

ABOUT ILLEGAL ART:

Conceived by Carrie McLaren, of Stay Free! magazine, New York, Illegal Art was a way to bring attention to the Supreme Court case, Eldred v. Ashcroft. That case was the unsuccessful constitutional challenge of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which extended existing copyrights and future copyrights by 20 years. Premiering in New York, the show has gained its own momentum due to its timely and provocative subject matter. After New York, Illegal Art traveled to Chicago, Washington DC, Boston and Philadelphia, before reaching the West Coast in July.

COPYRIGHT BACKGROUND:

Congress's original intent in drafting copyright law was to grant exclusive rights for limited terms, linked to the life spans of authors, in order that they could enjoy the fruits of their labor while alive. Until 1978, copyrights generally lasted 28 years and could be renewed for another 28. Publication without proper copyright notice threw a work into the public domain.

After 1978, the US "harmonized" its copyright laws with those of most other countries, extending the term of copyright for new works created by individuals to the span of author's lives plus 50 years, and new works created by corporations to 75 years. In 1993, renewals for older works became automatic. In 1998, the largely undebated Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act further "harmonized" our copyright laws with our European trade partners, extending terms to life plus 70 and 95 years respectively.

Many called Sonny Bono's law the "Mickey Mouse Act" of 1998 because the impetus for the copyright extension came from Disney corporation's fear of losing the rights to Mickey Mouse and other characters as its copyrights came to an end in 2003. While protecting the intellectual property of a few large corporations, these laws have had the effect of keeping hundreds of thousands of other US works out of the public domain. As one dissenter on the Supreme Court, Justice Steven G. Breyer estimated, only 2 percent of the work copyrighted between 1923 and 1942 continues to be commercially exploited. The rest are inaccessible.

DE FACTO CENSORSHIP?:

The laws governing "intellectual property" have grown so expansive in recent
years that borrowing from another artwork--as jazz musicians did in the 1930s
and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 1940s, and the Pop artists in the 1960's--could now land you in court. Some believe that if the current copyright laws had been in effect back in those days, whole genres such as collage, hip hop, and Pop Art might have never have existed.

Many "appropriation" artists working today-rap artists, collagists, sound artists, even documentary filmmakers believe the copyright and intellectual property laws have slowly tied up the material with which they make their work. And although the concepts of Fair Use and Parody still protect most sampling and image appropriation for artists, the threat of lawsuits from corporations have effectively put a chill on the artistic output of many. A simple "cease and desist" letter from a multinational conglomerate, regardless of its shaky legal standing, is often as effective as a lawsuit.

Corporate copyright holders have also pushed to limit the definition of "fair use" and, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 2000 (DMCA), to prevent just about all unpaid copying, performance, distribution and collecting of digitally based works. The DMCA encourages copyright holders to build protection mechanisms into technology, and then criminalizes "circumvention" attempts to reengineer the technology, however well intentioned (and necessary) they may be.

Copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but through its progressive changes, some say it is now being used to stifle creativity. Certain law experts, such as the Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig, have sided with artists who believe that copyright laws are becoming "instruments of censorship." Without full or fair access to images, ideas, and sounds that surround us in our world, many wonder what effect copyright laws will have on artists and what kinds of art will be made in this new century.

Posted by Mary Hodder at June 11, 2003 03:11 PM | TrackBack
Comments
Post a comment
Name:


Email Address:


URL:


Comments:


Remember info?