Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger (2018) explores how the various forms and methods of exhibiting photography today effects our understanding of the photographic image and how it operates when exhibited; particularly when displayed online amongst the plethora of online images and the effect that the image has on its audience within the context of the digital exhibition of photographic images, when interacted with in this context.
Rastenberger believes in the importance of the awareness of the interaction between ‘'local and global' (2018, p.109) when working with and in understanding photographic images, referring to the alliance between selfie culture and feminism as an example of such an interaction. According to our author, despite the original sense of freedom provided by the Internet with regards to idealism and identity work, we are still trapped by the restrictions of corporeal representation.
Rastenberger believes that photographically representing the self is ‘’no trivial category of image-making’’ (2018), as it ties representation to human beings, for example selfie cultures relationship to feminism. Based on the selfie’s election of the attractive white woman as the representative of the ideal version of all women in white consumer culture, Rastenberger believes that perhaps the selfie creates a set of ideals that restricts those who do not fit into this category from expressing themselves at all, doing quite the opposite of what was initially expected.
Rastenbergers conclusion that the control that the artist who is exhibiting their work has over the context of the work on displayed and in turn how their audience perceives the work as a result of the various elements involved is similar to Boris Groys' suggestion that the audiences gaze is determined by how the work is presented and the context of the work more than the work itself, in his discussion of the technology of presenting in his text Curating in the Post-Internet Age (2018). To display such images leads to questions of the purpose of the image, who or what is it representing, what it means within the context that is displayed. According to Rastenberg each of these questions are key in the tracking of the context of images when displayed online and the social role of these images.
In his text our author provides us with guide to copyright, specifically in relation to photography. Our author opens with a quote from Alphonse de Lamartine who believed that creativity was not required in the practise of photography. This idea according to Schrijver is outdated. He believes that creativity is expected from both the photographer and their subject, and as a result of this, the creator of the work has ownership over the final product, making it original. This ownership is recognised as copyright that serves to protect the artist from others who may wish to copy their original idea as their own.
The use of copyrighted material within a photographic image must be obviously secondary to the intended subject - Schrijver, 2018.
Our author articulates that almost all photographs are eligible for protection under copyright law. However, as becomes apparent in copyright law, there are exceptions. Schrijver uses hypothetical examples to provide us with a clear breakdown of the layers of copyright law and its exceptions, which become significantly more complicated as our author proceeds into cases involving creative input from more than one artist which opens up a web of fine print and restrictions that make it considerably difficult to take photographs without infringing copyright law. In order to avoid such dilemmas, it must be established whether or not the use of copyright is incidental or deliberate; ‘’ ’the use of copyrighted material within a photographic image must be obviously secondary to the intended subject’’ (2018), and must be perceived as an accessory to the main subject.
Schrijver concludes his text with the example of a similar scenario that could cause likewise problems, such as photography in public spaces, where the inclusion of buildings that are copyrighted to architects is potentially problematic. A solution to such situations was designed, and is known as ‘’freedom of panorama’’ (Schrijver, 2018) which specifically allows for the inclusion of buildings and permanent fixtures in photographs without violating or infringing on copyright law.
McKernan, S. (2020) 'Being human-centred' in Curating Photography: Poolside. TU Dublin: BA Photography [Online]. Available at www.curating.photography/post/sarah-mckernan
Rastenberger, A-K. (2018). ‘Why exhibit? Affective spectatorship and the gaze from somewhere’, in Rastenberger, A.K. and Sikking, I. (eds.) Why Exhibit? Positions on exhibiting photographies. Amsterdam: Fw Books.
Schrijver, E. (2019). ‘A copy of reality: photographs’ in in Copy this book: an artist's guide to copyright. Eindhoven: Onomatopee. Schrijver, E. (2019). ‘A copy of reality: photographs’ in in Copy this book: an artist's guide to copyright. Eindhoven: Onomatopee.
Fig. 1: Two Statues of Gugulethu Seven Memorial in Gugulethu, Cape Town.
Fig. 2: A reduxed version of the Two Statues of Gugulethu Seven Memorial in Gugulethu, Cape Town.
Fig. 3: Screen grab of fashion shoot from Vogua Italia.