You’re probably familiar with Sheperd Fairey’s iconic HOPE poster for the Obama campaign. You may remember Hillary Clinton’s quip that Obama’s alleged plagiarism of a passage in one of his speeches was not change you could believe in, but “change you can Xerox.” Interestingly enough, Clinton’s comment might have been better directed at Fairey’s poster.
If you’ve been following the controversy, Fairey is alleged by the Associated Press to have based his poster on an AP image by Mannie Garcia. For months Fairey denied the claims and even tried to sue the AP for using his poster image without consent. Now of course it turns out that Fairey did reference an image, and what’s more its not the image everyone thought it was, but in fact an photo that features the then candidate in the exact pose, expression and crop as on the famed poster.
By way of commentary on this whole debate over fair use, plagiarism, reference, homage, etc. Art You Can Xerox is a stack of photocopied images of Mr. Fairey’s poster — unaltered but for the aforementioned legend and the inevitable variances caused by photo-mechanical reproduction. So is it Art? Nonsense? Satire?