Text: About Copyright (Interview) | C215
“Doing contemporary art, many things happen through the internet. Besides the photos I take myself, easily recognizable, always the same light, the same look upwards, posture… I “steal” photos from the internet, especially those of my followers. If I notice someone very active on my pages, sometimes, I get in his/her universe and make a surprise. We’re like among friends, it makes an interaction between us. I have no scruple “stealing” an image from the internet. If they are published, they are available to me, to anyone, even for a screen capture, and my action is non-commercial. There is also a real transformation of the original picture, it becomes something else. It’s more a tool that helps me create something. And my art is available to anyone in the public, my work is on the streets. So anyone can take a photo of my creations, share it on internet and as well and it can be stolen by someone else, who can use it as a wall paper, album cover etc… And I’ll get no rights from it, not even the original photographer. That’s interesting. We’re in a civilization when things published on the internet or in the street belong to the public domain now. Things come and go, the cd s we loved 15 years ago are now gone to trash and no one committed suicide. Everything is disposable now. Even the most beautiful things. You look at them, you click and then you look at another image.”
C215, Video Interview to Frédéric Claquin, Plan9 Entertainment
Christina Grammatikopoulou: In your video interview you talk about your art as a process of creative transformation of images, photographs and paintings into something new. Have you ever been limited by copyright laws from using an image or an artwork that inspires you?
Christian Guémy (C215): In the streets never, street censorship is more about the content, that could shock or not the people. In the galleries, yes, I check if there is no problem using a visual.
C.G.: As a great number of your works “live” in the streets, they can receive the intervention of other people, who can either transform them artistically or –sadly- destroy them. Have you ever experienced such creative or destructive interventions on your work?
C215: Whatever you leave in the streets is altered very quick o it is hard to consider that you are still the author after a while. Moreover, some photographs take pictures that turn your artwork into something else…
C.G.: Rather than “safeguarding” your works in a museum or art gallery, you leave them in the streets, accessible to anyone that passes by. Who “owns” the rights to these works, from a legal point of view?
C215: In France, the law is clear: I keep the copyright, even in the streets, but in reality, copyrights are absolutely blurred in the streets.
C.G.: Street art is usually created without authorization. However, lately we see more and more “legal” street art. Why have the authorities changed their position?
C215: It is a policy about the “stick and the carrot”, authorizing one side to repress the other and control graffiti.
Christian Guémy, also known as C215, is a Parisian street artist focused on stencil graffiti. Born in 1973, C215 started spray painting in 2005 and is today one of the finest, and most productive stencil artists on the street art scene.