Gallery Told to Remove Mocked Up Billboard Images of Trump and Diana

Gallery Told to Remove Mocked Up Billboard Images of Trump and Diana

Where's the line between false advertisement and art in photography? What if it falls somewhere between the two?

No doubt, you would assume that people visiting art gallery exhibitions would be able to discern the nuances between what appears to be a piece of art and what may be considered an advertisement. However, things are not as black and white, and sometimes these types of art creations may still fall under scrutiny of local lawmakers. Such case occurred in Estonia, where authorities have requested Tallin's Fotografiska gallery to take down billboards featuring images to advertise the exhibition, which showed mocked-up images of Donald Trump and Princess Diana, were created by British artist Alison Jackson. 

The local advertising laws did not agree with the mocked-up photographs of a Trump lookalike having sex with a fake Miss Mexico contestant and princess Diana showing her middle-finger to the viewers. Because these had been displayed outside of the gallery space, they fell under the local advertising laws and as such can be "be banned on grounds of obscenity or using images of people as sexualized objects, as well as for using images of people without their consent." Kairi Vaher, the head of the city's business authority, believes that everyone should be freely allowed to choose whether to visit the photo exhibition or not, but the same freedom of choice doesn't apply for the art that is displayed in outdoor advertising space, which could be seen by minors. 

Although the gallery agreed to comply with the ruling, Margit Aasmäe, the chief executive of Fotografiska gallery, believes it to be misplaced. Aasmäe noted that nowadays the issue is more extensive. Photographs with more nudity often circulate even on serious news channels, as does false information, reaching a far higher number of people than these adverts for photo exhibition ever would. Furthermore, the adverts actually included text explaining that they aren't real images.

Gallery is planning to replace these billboards with plain-text sings reading "Truth is dead", which is also the name of Jackson's photo exhibition. Artist has said that one of her goals is to explore "how photography is often a “deceitful medium”". Clearly, when it comes to manipulating photographs, the line between what is supposed to be art and what is purposely created to fake reality becomes very thin, opening a lot of gray areas. 

What are your thoughts on this?

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Jeff Walsh's picture

Billboards advertising the galley are not art pieces, they are advertisements, thus subject to advertisement laws and regulations. Doesn't matter if the images on the billboards are art, they are being used as advertisements. This would be much different if the city told them they cant display the art in their gallery, but that didnt happen, and frankly this smells of a marketing campaign. If that's the case, then it worked

Carl Murray's picture

*makes some popcorn* here we go

Jan Guenther's picture

The fotografiska gallery is in Stockholm/ Sweden as correctly indicated on the Instagram post...

honderd woorden's picture

If you look at the bottom of their website, you’ll see there are 4 locations, Stockholm, New York, London and Tallinn
If you click on Tallinn you’ll see the exhibition is there until November 10 2019