This essay was written in response to my Image and instagram being exhibited and sold as behalf of Richard Prince’s “New Portraits” exhibition at the Gargosian Gallery in NYC.
It was first published in All Day Every Day



Is what we are creating today a re-appropriation of everything before it?

It’s not about breaking the rules or ‘free the nipple’, it’s about how Instagram, Facebook and other social media have enabled our addiction to communicating while quietly taking over the copyright. Your latest exhibition is perfectly this: re-appropriating social media and its appropriation of our copyright.


Every time we use Instagram or Facebook we sign a waiver giving permission to sell our images, and you have both exploited and undermined this. I support this commentary: no one owns an idea, and your works state this in bold. You give no explanation, only an infringement notice:


“Where in place of the typical gallery explanation to provide analysis of the show, there is issued simply the comment, ‘All images are subject to copyright. Gallery approval must be granted prior to reproduction.’”


And the way forward: our generation accepts appropriation and borrowing from all pasts because we accept a future of unity. “The Yes Generation”… How else could we move forward except through this acceptance and the freedom it gives us?


I can take my top off in a New York gallery, it is legal — although it’s definitely difficult to focus on that at the same time as taking a selfie of a portrait of a ‘selfie’ intended for Instagram. We wave our right to privacy, sometimes without realizing, sometimes voluntarily, so what is our ideal platform? The online space is a new sort of palette for artists to offer new perspectives on voice and freedom. Accept and broaden the platform. Celebrate fellow artists and live against the grain.


Today I received an email about re-appropriation — that working with your peers and re-appropriating yourself was simply a marketing tool. It made me want to run out the window! I see our generation and our fight for equality in all things as exactly the opposite of this. We should be pushing against all boundaries, whether industry, gender, or otherwise. Collaboration and standing on the shoulders of giants, using the way the world and industry are set up in order to change both, can only be fruitful and a way to find and give freedom.


I believe in active women who take charge to heal, listen to and love one another, and men whom do the same, supporting each other and respecting one another on an equal plane of thought and life. Instinct should be our goal, so that the ultimate version of ourselves, whomever we end up being, thrives.


I hope people continue to use the tools of today, to say what they would like to say and see, allowing this to be a platform for art and alternate voices, free of judgment. You comment on a generation who photograph themselves and focus in on what they want to see. I see this behavior as the ultimate confidence in the individual, even if we are subject to copyright, and perhaps this is our lesson of acceptance. Your art wraps the cover of POP magazine, flows throughout the Gagosian and is constantly being reworked, re-appropriated, and re-curated on Instagram. Meta!


This type of raw, instinctual reflection of the world’s workings allows people to reflect and work towards being comfortable with what they have been given, allowing them to thrive in whatever way they will. Taking photographs of natural, raw, sensual imagery allows us all to see what is real, and be OK with this as both a form of communication and of sexuality. Our perceptions of what we should like and be like are constantly changing. We shape our perception through voice and choice, and through re-appropriation, which should be, on all fronts, accepted.


This is why we love you, Richard Prince: for stating the obvious. But then again, we don’t get commission .


Cara Stricker, 2014