Elephant 30

Spring 2017



The Borrowers: Copyright and its Discontents

The first copyright law, made in the eighteenth century, granted artists the exclusive right to control the copying of their original creations for 14 years. Too brief a period? Perhaps, but by the beginning of the twenty-first century, copyright’s term had grown to cover the life of the artist plus 70 years – which means that Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avigon will remain protected until 2043, 136 years after it was completed. Too long, surely?

In this issue we look at the twentieth-century phenomenon of “copyright creep” and its implications for artists working in the Digital Age. We talk to Christopher Clary about Sorry to Dump On You, a personal/collective project embedded in gay online culture, and to David Claerbout about his unauthorized collaborations with Elvis Presley and others; we look at Eleanor Macnair’s Play-Doh recreations of iconic photographs; and we interview Stephanie Syjuco about her “copies, homages and perversions”. We also go in search of Ozmo and discover that even (and perhaps even especially) street artists get “bitten”, and meet Thomas Sauvin, whose remarkable (and entirely borrowed) Beijing Silvermine project is writing an alternative history of modern China.

For some artists death is the end, but for others it opens a new chapter in their career. In this issue we talk to Dr Loretta Würtenberger, founder of the Institute for Artists’ Estates, about ways to keep artists’ works fresh and visible after their deaths, and we look at the remarkable posthumous career of Philippe Vandenberg.

There’s also a Paper Gallery dedicated to the collaged “conversations” of Ruth van Beek, in addition to Encounters with US painter Joan Semmel, German artists Neo Rauch and Thomas Ruff, Dutch photographer Scarlett Hooft Graafland, Danish designer Henrik Vibskov, and Spanish painter Secundino Hernández.