​suicidegirl’s clever response to richard prince’s stolen instagram art

Instagram users SuicideGirl reclaim their image from controversial artist Richard Prince, who reappropriated and sold it for $90,000.

by Felicity Kinsella
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29 May 2015, 12:50am

The Creators Project: We Talked to the Suicide Girls About Richard Prince's "Appropriation Art"

Last week controversial artist Richard Prince displayed his Frieze exhibition, reminding us all that once you let something loose in the digital stratosphere it no longer belongs to you. He had the brilliantly simple idea of screenshotting Instagram users' posts and selling the enlarged prints for $90,000. And he was probably (definitely) aware of the cascade of internet trolling that would follow. Is it ok that he's not actually breaking any laws by selling another person's image as his own? Thus, Prince was the catalyst for a major discussion around copyright, privacy and appropriation.

The only original input into the designs were cryptic comments made from Prince's own Instagram account. On SuicideGirl's post he commented "Private Lives, mind if I sneeze on," before screenshotting it and blowing it up to six foot. A collective of models and burlesque performers with 3.3 million followers, SuicideGirls did not go down the (as yet unsuccessful by everyone else who has tried) suing route, but instead decided to come back with a cool riposte.

Founder Missy Suicide posted this to the group's blog, selling the exact same artwork (with the addition of one more comment from them; "true art") for $90 instead of $90,000. Instead of tens of thousands of dollars going to a millionaire artist, SuicideGirls claim that profits from prints bought directly from them - the people who actually created the image - will go to charity. What are you gonna spend your dollar on?

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Richard Prince
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