In the wake of the Richard Prince's New Portraits and the ensuing conversation about the ethics of appropriation, we are once again attempting to draw ethical distinctions between stolen goods and art. When The New Yorker covered Yale's MFA photography graduate show, they included an image called Cheeks, credited to photographer Zak Arctander.
Cheeks (2015) Zak Arctander
The photograph itself was actually taken by Tayler Smith in 2014 as part of Most Important Ugly, collaborative project with Arabelle Sicardi. Trans model Hari Nef sat for the portrait, an intensive process which Arabelle has previously detailed. "In order to sit for their photo to be taken, I asked each muse a series of questions about shame, safety, power, family and beauty." The series included also queer New Yorkers like Tyler Ford.
Hari Nef (2014) Tayler Smith and Arabelle Sicardi
Zak's image is displayed in the Lovely Dark: Yale MFA 2015 Photography exhibition at Danziger Gallery. James Danziger, the gallery's proprietor, issued a statement to Julianne Escobedo Shepherd at Jezebel, saying it "falls well within what would be considered legitimate appropriation and transformative use." On her Tumblr, Tayler clarified that neither she nor Arabelle were contacted by Zak. Arabelle commented on her image's use on Twitter:
— Arabelle Sicardi (@arabellesicardi) June 18, 2015
Text Isabelle Hellyer