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February 7, 2005

The Internets Catch Me Up With the Weeklies

Not getting out for the past two weeks meant, among other things, not picking up my copies of either free weekly. Thank God I've got these here internets to read 'em for me.

All that and a bit of local housekeeping...

Can it be...

Another Chicago art blog? Meet Houndstooth.

"I have not told anyone about this online journal," writes its author, Jason, a self-proclaimed "student of the arts" (read: art history nerd).

Fortunately for us, though, Jason outed himself in a comment over at Modern Kicks.

As some are prone to say up north, "Howdy!"

Stirring Sterling

Another new local art blog, Folding Chair, points to Michael Workman's Newcity column from a couple weeks ago on the topic of Van Harrison's departure west east (Folding Chair posing Workman's take against Terence Hannum's).

In the midst of his remarks on Harrison and 1R, Workman lets loose on their season-opener this past fall, Sterling Ruby's Interior Burnout:

...much maladroit work has certainly hung on Harrison's ever-shifting walls. Not six months ago, the gallery flirted with a dangerously moribund if not borderline-embarrassing emulation of New York's Daniel Reich Gallery, an experiment that ended in the professionally tragic amateurism and homeless chic of Sterling Ruby's "Interior Burnout." Co-director Marc LeBlanc left the gallery the day after the show opened and the writing was suddenly on the wall (literally: for Ruby's show, he scribbled on the wall using black spray-paint--with a skull-fucking scene thrown in for good measure).

This prompted a response from Ruby himself in the form of a letter to the editor. His response can also be found at panel-house (unedited, with an additional paragraph in response to Kathryn Rosenfeld's artnet review from last fall).

The recent output from Workman in his column "Eye Exam" is yet another misinterpretation. For someone who I believe has a PhD (though I cannot find evidence of it on-line), he is considerably lacking insight as to what is actually going on. He, like Rosenfeld narrows my work down to the most basic insult instead of contemplating the likelihood that its construction is a sign of transience, which I feel is an accurate representation of making art in current society. The skull-fucking scene is going to be just that--a skull-fucking scene, if you do not take the work in its entirety. Possibly though, if seen in the right light it could be that the skull-fucking scene indicates where we are as artists; being afraid of yet obsessed with what went before and neurotically pursuing our own symptoms.

...and so on about the art historical implications of "the skull-fucking scene." He ends with a final salvo of "join me even though I have left Chicago at rejecting him from being Chicago's spokesperson."

Ahh, fireworks in winter.

I hope to have more to say on this later.

But who owns the skyline?

Via Art.Blogging.LA, New (sub)Urbanism discusses a January 28 Reader article on the copyrighting of Millennium Park.

In keeping with the contemporary trends of privatizing public space, Millennium Park is a copyrighted public space.
The Reader recounts the experience of photojournalist Warren Wimmer's attempts to photograph Anish Kapoor's sculpture, Cloud Gate (more commonly known as "the Bean"). When Wimmer set up his tripod and camera to shoot the sculpture, security guards stopped him, demanding that they show him a permit. Wimmer protested, replying that it's absurd that one needs to pay for a permit to photograph public art in a city-owned park.

Wimmer says that a guard told him that "This whole park is copyrighted." Clarification of the policy came to Reader author Ben Joravsky when he spoke to Millennium Park media contact Karen Ryan:

"The copyrights for the enhancements in Millennium Park"—meaning the Bean, the band shell, the Columbus Drive pedestrian bridge, the Crown Fountain, and Lurie Garden—"are owned by the artist who created them," she wrote. "As such, anyone reproducing the works, especially for commercial purposes, needs the permission of that artist." She added, "artists are increasingly sophisticated about copyrights and this is standard practice for today's artists. . . . This was not the case years ago (i.e., the Art Institute Lions, Wrigley Building, etc.)."

So the policy is merely out of regard for the artists' rights? Oddly enough, the concerns seem to go beyond those of Kapoor, Gehry and Plensa, as Ryan alleges that this is a parks-wide policy:

According to Ryan, a professional photographer has to buy a $325 media permit to shoot for any part of one day in any city park, not just Millennium Park. She did add, "The policy allows students, journalists, and amateur photographers to shoot in the park with no restrictions."

This sounds a whole lot closer to the aforementioned guard's assessment of things.

(An aside: As it is, I'm a bit fuzzy on the distinction between a "professional photographer" and a "journalist" as it pertains to freelance photographers. How does such a policy apply, for example, to a photographer working on spec?)

So it would seem that one needs a permit to photograph anything on park grounds. Setting aside any questions about the wisdom, ethics or legality of so extensively "copyrighting" public works or spaces (or however you wish to characterize this), or the suggestion that the same can be done for architecture, do the artists' copyrights for the park "enhancements" somehow extend to the park spaces in general? Or is the Millennium Park conservancy claiming the "copyright" over those portions of the park space not dominated by these works (or, for that matter, do those rights go to the respective corporate sponsors)?

Really, as it appears that they aren't going so far as to prohibit commercial photography outright (just charging for the privilege), can this be claimed to actually be about artists' copyrights at all? Or is it perhaps—dare I say it—just another revenue stream for the city?

In any event, I hope Catherine Opie has a good lawyer (warning: Real Audio).

NEWSgrist, as is quite often the case, offers the best link-around in town, including a pointer to this semi-related post by Free Culture guru Lawrence Lessig.


Finally, and returning to Workman for a moment... At the end of the column mentioned above he happens to make mention of a certain Chicago art blog. Its author sends out a hearty 'thank you.'

The blurb is a bit of an addendum to his previous column, in which he highlights Paul Klein's Art Letter and its forum. Around the same time as that earlier piece I noticed that Roy Boyd's front desk was showing off a printout of Klein's brief mention of their current show in his January 7 review. Though I'm sure Klein's stature as a local figure helped, it's still nice to suddenly see a gallery paying attention to the world online.

And what with someone at the Times apparently reading art blogs... do you feel what I feel?

That's creeping legitimacy right there, folks.

"The Internets Catch Me Up With the Weeklies"
Posted by Dan at 09:17 PM


[creeping legitimacy]


Posted by: Cynthia on February 8, 2005 at 11:58 AM

Creeping legitimacy - isn't there some kind of lotion for that?

Posted by: Franklin on February 8, 2005 at 08:31 PM

Referenced in this post:

Art Letter
Art Letter: 01/07/05
Art Letter: Forum
Art.Bloggin.LA: Copyright Crazy
Art.Bloggling.LA: Burden in the New York Times
Artnet.com: That Kind of Fall—Kathryn Rosenfeld
Chicago Public Radio: Audio Library: Hello Beautiful—Universal Experience: Art, Life, and the Tourist's Eye (Real Audio)
Folding Chair: Van Harrison off to New York
Houndstooth: Blogger User Profile
Houndstooth: Into the void
Iconoduel: Here and There—Van Harrison Heads West
Lessig Blog: the freedom to click
Modern Kicks: Qu'est-ce que le Tiers état?—Comments
NEWSgrist: Copyright Blight: Against Photography in Chicago
New (sub)Urbanism: The Copyrighting of Public Space
Newcity: Art Speak—Michael Workman
Newcity: Insider Out—Michael Workman
Newcity: Letters to the Editor
Panel-house: 'In The Shallows' Melissa Oresky @ Van Harrison Gallery—Terence J. Hannum
Panel-house: A Brief Rebuttal To Michael Workman—Sterling Ruby
Roy Boyd Gallery
Van Harrison Gallery
Zeke's Gallery