POST BY PADDY JOHNSON
If the point of Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno’s collaborative project “No Ghost, Just a Shell” is to propose scenarios that liberate the manga character Ann Lee from ownership, why is the Tate holding her image reproduction rights hostage? Conceived in 1999 when the two bought the copyright to the girl’s image — a move that continues the cartoon’s themes of hijacked identity and the infiltration of human minds — the artists invited friends to create work that explored her new found rights. But unlike regular people, who get to decide who takes a picture of them and why, The Tate makes that decision for the girl, with it’s no photography policy. As such, the girl’s identity remains just as much a commodity as it had before. Ann Lee does not profit or control the use of her image, though everyone else does — the artists, The Tate and collectors Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz (the current owners of all but one image on view).
I suppose Ann Lee doesn’t get a say on how her image is used either if I place a Creative Commons share license on my clandestinely taken photographs, but I couldn’t help but think she’d at least gain a little life and energy should she move across the internet. Not that this idea made any difference to the Tate. “No photographs!” a guard yelled at me, as I snapped a photograph of Lee’s projected face. “But I’m freeing Ann Lee from her existence as a commodity!” I protested. He didn’t hear me, but maybe the Internet will. Infuse Ann Lee with life by passing her image along and freeing her from The Tate!