Artist Claims National Portrait Gallery Exhibition Violates His Moral Rights
The artist, AA Bronson, asked the National Portrait Gallery last week that it remove his photograph, Felix, June 5, 1994, which shows the corpse of Mr. Bronson’s partner shortly after he died of AIDS, from the NPG show, Hide/Seek, to protest the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s video.
To this day the National Portrait Gallery has not complied. According to Tyler Green of Modern Art Notes, Bronson sent the NPG a brief but to-the-point e-mail insisting that if his art work was not withdrawn as he requested, the NPG would be in jeopardy of violating Bronson’s moral rights,
My lawyer suggests that, according to my moral rights under copyright law in both Canada and the USA, I have the right to withdraw my work from Hide/Seek. Please remove my work from the exhibition immediately.
We’re not sure about the Canadian moral rights law, but it does not seem to us that under the 1990 Visual Artists Rights Act the NPG would be violating Bronson’s moral rights simply by exhibiting the work within a context and/or exhibition that Bronson did not like or approve of. If this were the case, artists could dictate and–ironically–censor the speech of individuals whom they did not identify with ideologically. Interesting move though.
UPDATE: Donn agrees!