Who Owns What in the Digital Age

Marc Adelman’s Stelen (Columns) (2007–11) was included in The Jewish Museum exhibition Composed: Identity, Politics, Sex (Dec. 23, 2011–June 30, 2012). The work comprises a set of photographs Adelman found on a gay dating website. Following a published review of the exhibition, the Museum received complaints from several people whose profile pictures were featured in Stelen. Their comments focused on privacy issues—the inclusion of their images in the artwork without their consent—and the possibility that as a result of being depicted publicly in the work they might be subject to significant anti-gay backlash. (See statement.) We have invited Marc Adelman and a range of experts to address some of the complex issues raised by the artwork.

If you would like to provide a response to any of these contributions, please do so in the comments section. We will select a representative sampling of responses for publication here. Anonymous responses will not be eligible for publication.

What are the ethical concerns for artists who appropriate images from the Internet? To what extent should artists consider privacy, the personal safety of their subjects, and First Amendment rights?

UmbricoHeifermanJohnsonWilliamsWasowAdelmanNevins

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