World

5.28.2015

SUICIDEGIRLS SELL RICHARD PRINCE PHOTOS FOR CHARITY

By now you’ve probably heard about the new Richard Prince controversy. His latest series ‘New Portraits’ (displayed at Frieze Art Fair) consists solely of Instagram screenshots from various women’s accounts. The photos, priced $90,000, sold quickly and the internet was pretty upset.

Instagram’s guidelines state that this is totally legal. While users have rights to their content within the social media platform, once the content is used in an exterior context it no longer belongs to the user. So Prince is legally able to remove the original photo caption, add some cryptic Jaden Smith-like comment (‘No cure, no pay…,’ ‘Private Lives, mind if I sneeze on’) and sell the screenshot as his own. Art is wild.

People were quick to voice their outrage over the series, calling it misogynistic and perverted – Prince bravely retweeted some critics. However, SuicideGirls, a punk themed online pin-up community, responded in an appropriate manner. Five screenshots from the company account were used in the series, so they’re reprinting his work and selling the pieces as their own. All the proceeds will go to EFF, a nonprofit that focuses on civil liberites in the cyber world. Prince tweeted his approval, calling their effort a "much better idea."

“Do we have Mr. Prince’s permission to sell these prints? We have the same permission from him that he had from us.” the company posted on their website.

Prince has a history of appropriating artists’ work and clearly knows how to play within the boundaries of what is legal in terms of copyright infringement. In 2011 he won a case against Patrick Cariou after the court ruled that his appropriated images were “transformative.”

Since the rise of social media, the lines of what content belongs to the user have been blurred and artists will continue to experiment with this. So while Richard Prince makes a profit off other people’s pictures, the SuicideGirls are using the exposure to help others. Girl power.

Photo by SuicideGirls.

Follow them on Instagram @SuicideGirls!

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