Law & Artists: SVU

Jon Routson, Bootleg (Nashville) still, image:

In the Times, Roberta Smith combines a righteous review of Jon Routson’s “Bootleg” series–video recordings of films Routson attends–with righteous indignation against increasingly draconian copyright legislation (like making possession of a camcorder in a theater a felony).

It does not matter whether you think that Mr. Routson’s work is good or bad art; it is quite good enough, in my view. It does matter that the no-camcorder laws may not do much to stem pirating while making it increasingly difficult for artists to do one of the things they do best: comment on the world around them.
Our surroundings are so thoroughly saturated with images and logos, both still and moving, that forbidding artists to use them in their work is like barring 19th-century landscape painters from depicting trees on their canvases. Pop culture is our landscape…
At once stolen and given away, Mr. Routson’s works operate somewhere between the manipulated magazine advertising images of the 1980’s artist Richard Prince and the keep-the-gift-in-motion aesthetic of 90’s artists like Felix Gonzalez-Torres, whose sculptures included large piles of wrapped candy, free for the taking, and Rirkrit Tiravanija, whose first exhibitions consisted of cooking curry and serving it to gallery visitors. [Nice company you keep, Jon. -greg]

Routson’s show runs through Saturday at Team Gallery.
Related, Law:
Theaters used nightvision goggles to bust the only man to record (or see) The Alamo (04.15.04)
“If camcorders are illegal, only criminals will have camcorders.” (11.21.03)

& Artist:
Jon Routson profile in Baltimore City Paper (with important-sounding quotes from me) (01.21.04)
Jon Routson’s edited-for-TV Cremaster 4 and video art bootlegging (08.18.03)