For my first exhibition of 2016 I’ll be taking in Common Property at Jerwood Visual Arts fom 15th January – 21st February 2016
Curated by Hannah Pierce, Jerwood Encounters: Common Property seeks to demonstrate how artists engage with and relate to copyright through the work of six emerging and mid-career artists, including three new commissions. The exhibition and accompanying events programme seeks to generate new conversations about how copyright is currently impacting the way visual artists make and distribute their work, and demonstrates how artists are challenging the limitations of copyright through their practice.
The exhibition takes its title from a response Sol LeWitt made in Flash Art in 1973 to the accusation that he had copied the work of Francois Morellet and Jan Schoonhoven. He stated: “I believe that ideas once expressed, become the common property of all. They are invalid if not used, they can only be given away and not stolen…”
Copyright has expanded exponentially over the past two decades in line with the unprecedented free-exchange of information and content that takes place over the Internet. In October 2014, in an attempt to make the copyright system better suited to the digital age, changes to UK legislation came into effect allowing the parody of copyrighted works. This change allows individuals to make limited but reasonable use of creative content previously protected by copyright, through ‘Caricature, Parody and Pastiche’, without having to gain permission of the rights holder – provided that it is considered ‘fair and appropriate’.
Jerwood Encounters: Common Property comes at a hugely significant time in the continuing chaotic development of the law on copyright. It comes also at a time of markedly increasing interest in the nexus between art and law generally. Copyright law is currently in a state of flux amidst the coincidence of emergent new digital realities, a proliferation of appropriation based cultural expression and the prospective move towards a more creativity based standard for protection. Further complexity is added to the terrain by impending and potentially radical EU reforms and a growing awareness of the importance of achieving balance within the IP system, with an increased emphasis being placed on exceptions and limitations to the scope of copyright protection. The works in Common Property address many of these concerns exploring, inter alia, the themes of cultural transformative re-use, technology’s impact on the boundaries of infringement and the contemporary challenges to the fundamental notions of authorship inherent in copyright law.
There will be a number of new commissions in Common Property, reflecting the current and evolving artistic interest in ‘playing’ with copyright frameworks and associated issues.