Sunday, 7 March 2010
Peace and no love
(Update March 11: In my original post I chastised Nobel Peace Center, but to my big surprise the terms has been set by Magnum. I still think it is a silly sign. See addendum at the end of the post for clarification)
From the Nobel Pece Prize spawned The Nobel Peace Center. According to their website the center aims to "spur reflection and debate on issues relating to war, peace and conflict resolution". They do this through "educating, inspiring and entertaining its visitors through exhibitions, activities, lectures and cultural events". It has also become the venue for some of the most important photojournalistic exhibitions in Norway.
From Abbas to Callie Shell, if someone knows how to put on a great photo exhibit, relating to important issues, it is the Nobel Peace Center.
On this background it was with a disbelief I encountered the above sign upon entering their latest exhibition. NO photography allowed??
The NPC is promoting photojournalism and using photography to educate, yet at the same time won't allow photography in their exhibition.What a total and ironic disconnect!
The exhibition From King to Obama portrays the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s - and photography played an important role. If no one had photographed Rosa Parks on that bus, or the other events of that time, history may have been different.
© Bruce Davidson /Magnum Photos (via NPC)
USA. Birmingham, Alabama. 1963. Arrest of a demonstrator.
There may not be many history changing events at the NPC, but the organization apparently fails to see that photography isn't just for Magnum photographers in areas of turmoil. Photography is how parents record their children, how friends share their experiences, how individuals keep a peice of their own experiences and their personal history, things that are important to them.
I've tried to think of reasons why NPC has this policy. If is an attempt to protect the copyright of the pictures, then it's a misguieded attempt. The pictures can easily be found elsewhere (some as downloadable pictures on the NPC website). And while all images are protected by copyright, there is nothing legally wrong with photographing pictures in an exhibit as long as one includes some context, such as people looking at the pictures. Perhaps NPC is trying to protect it's commercial interests by making sure the material can only been seen by those paying the 14 dollar (!) entrance fee. If that is the case they may want to weigh that against this scenario: a father who will never return (and pay again) as long as he can't take pictures of his daughter as she sees important pictures of history and learns the value of photojournalism.
This little sign makes a huge differnce in my mind. It gives me associations I didn't expect to get at NPC: London and Kabul to mention a few.
UPDATE (March 11): I recieved some feedback on our Facebook page from Kirsti Svinning of the NPC. I feel it contains some important clarifactions so I share it here as well:
The restrictions are due to regulations from Magnum Photos that is a co-producer of this exhibition, and they only apply to the "From King to Obama"-exhibition. Magnum has a no photography clause for non-media people in all their exhibitions, to protect the copyright of their photograpers and prevent copying/duplication of single photographs. All other exhibitions at the NPC may be photographed and documentet to your hearts content - feel free! If you want to do a professional shoot, please notify us, and we will help fasilitate for your needs.
I'd like to share my reply as well:
I realize now the fire should be directed at Magnum. As a photographer I understand where they are coming from, but still think it is a misguided attempt to protect themselves. It is a a bit like banning all people from driving because some people drive too fast. Anyone wanting to steal an image could simply borrow a book at the library and scan/snap any photograph and get much better quality than trying to make a duplication from a picture on the wall.
It is also sad when a photo agency distrusts the public so much it doesn't think the copyright laws are enough. The very same public Magnum photographers expect to be allowed to photograph at best and worst of times. Trust is a two way street.