I went to the opening of an exhibition of graffiti photos yesterday. I was pleased to see dozens of bright colourful images of graffiti art, pieces from Toronto and around the world. I was pleased to see a room full of older people, learning about this art form and with deep enough pockets to afford one of the photos -at $2,800. I was less pleased after talking to the photographer, May Karp.
The opinion I had obtained from some Canadian lawyers is that once an artist creates something, it is automatically copyrighted. Even if it's a graffiti mural on a wall, even if it was done without permission, even if the artist can't afford a lawyer to defend his/her rights. Even if you can't find the artist. When we asked May about this, she seemed quite dismissive - her lawyers assured her the artists have no copyrights, and that the art usually is whitewashed over by the next day anyways. We also asked if she would consider sharing some of the money with the artists. No, she thinks they should be grateful she is promoting this form of art.
I don't agree, I think the artists should be identified and compensated. For example, I recognized signed pieces by local artists Elicser, EGR, and maybe Artchild.
The exhibit is on until September 27 at Moore Gallery here in Toronto - 80 Spadina, suite 404. Drop by and check it out - especially if you're a local artst - you may find your work up there. Feel free to talk to the curator, Amanda Moore, or drop the gallery a line at [email protected] .
Here's an article on the exhibition...
Her upcoming photo exhibition, StreetSpeaks, opens Sept. 6 at Toronto's Moore Gallery and will feature the results of two years' worth of pursuing and documenting spraypainted masterpieces in Spain (including the Canary Islands), France, Portugal, Miami, New York and at home in Hogtown.
Sept 13 - Update - There's a brief article in the Toronto SUN about this. When the photographer was confronted by some artists and "their" gallery owner, asking about recognition and compensation, the gallery decided to just pull the show. Too bad. Maybe she'll try again sometime but this time involve the artists more.
The SUN piece is based on her official statement about the closure , so is of course all about her. Here's a link to the article and my added comments.