In the Internet age, art has become a priceless, unowned entity; reblogs and regrams add a false sense of proprietorship to another’s work until any trace of the original creator becomes completely obsolete. Queer feminist Arabelle Sicardi, known for her fashion and makeup expertise, was recently victim to this hazy paper trail when her work was published in The New Yorker and credited to another artist named Zak Arctander.
Sicardi’s original image, featuring trans model Hari Nef, was created with young photographer Tayler Smith for a collaborative show called, “Most Important Ugly.” According to Jezebel, the exhibition was displayed for four months at American Two Shot in New York City.
— Arabelle Sicardi (@arabellesicardi) June 18, 2015
Arctander calls his reworked version of the image, “Cheeks,” and included it in his MFA thesis without any attributions to Sicardi or Smith. The photo also appeared in The New Yorker’s profile of the 2015 Yale MFA photography students with the credit, “Photograph by Zak Arctander;” journalist Hilton Als aptly titled his article, “The Freedom of Young Photographers”—ironic. “Cheeks” is currently being displayed in Chelsea’s Danziger Gallery as part of the Yale MFA show.
can’t believe some yale mfa took the work that saved my life, bastardized it, got 2 hang out with my fav writer and got into the nyer. LMAO — Arabelle Sicardi (@arabellesicardi) June 18, 2015
Though Arctander has remained silent on the issue, Jezebel received a response from Danziger Gallery’s James Danziger, saying, “I was not aware of the origin of the image but having spoken to Zak who explained that his artwork (which is a banner on vinyl) is a composite of a picture of that picture converted to black and white and layered with a picture of graffiti, I feel that this falls well within what would be considered legitimate appropriation and transformative use.”