A gallery in Florida is planning to stage an exhibit featuring nude images stolen from women including Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Lawrence.
Oh, you thought that horrible charity drive was the worst, most misguided decision to come out of the celeb photo leak? Nope, not by a long shot. An artist who goes by the name XVALA, which stands for "Someone who is clearly mad at himself for not getting cast on Work of Art" is planning to put the images on display at a gallery in St. Petersburg, Florida. Oh holy fuck.
I'm just going to let you read this cringe-worthy press release about this horrible shit. Try not to throw anything at your computer screen before you finish it:
Printed on canvas, life-size and unaltered, the leaked images of Lawrence and [Kate] Upton will be the latest installment for XVALA's long-awaited show "No Delete"; displaying the artist's 7 year collection of images found on Google of celebrities in their most vulnerable and private moments, that were comprised by either hackers or the paparazzi. "We share our secrets with technology," said XVALA. "And when we do, our privacy becomes accessible to others."
XVALA's use of celebrity compromised images for his work has received mainstream media attention world-wide since 2007, when the artist appropriated the iconic Britney Spears' shaved head portrait that he displayed in a 17th-century Italian reproduced Tabernacle Frame.
"XVALA appropriating celebrity compromised images and the overall 'Fear Google' campaign has helped strengthen the ongoing debate over privacy in the digital era," said publicist Cory Allen.
What? Really? Seriously? How deluded and self-absorbed are these people? Yes, all the lengthy articles and discussions I've been involved with over this issue always are sure to include how XVALA has "helped strengthen" the debate. For sure.
In 2011, XVALA posted the leaked nude images of actress Scarlett Johansson throughout the streets in Los Angeles with "Fear Google" logo covering her intimate areas. Both pieces will be included in the show.
Oh he put "Fear Google" over her "intimate areas." Yeah, stay classy.
The artist's "Fear Google" campaign also includes sculptures fabricated from the residential trash of celebrities and tech icons, such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Kim Kardashian-West, and others; comparing personal trash to information thrown away and becoming accessible to the public for anyone's use.
Cool story, now let's jump to the part where it's OK for you to publicly show images that were stolen from these women.
"In today's culture, everybody wants to know everything about everybody. An individual's privacy has become everyone else's business," said XVALA. "It has become cash for cache."
"The commentary behind this show is a reflection of who we are today," said Allen. "We all become 'users' and in the end, we become 'used'."
Wow. Much pretentious. So art.
The artist also spoke to LA Weekly about fears that the gallery might be prosecuted. Yes, because that's what we're all so deeply concerned about lately.
XVALA told us, "I hope we don't need an attorney." But he said he definitely plans to move forward with the exhibition, with the backing of the gallery. "I'm taking them off the internet and putting them into a new medium that is transformative," he said. "I'll be using them as commentary."
The artist says he hasn't entirely decided yet which pilfered images he'll display, but that Lawrence's and Johansson's are shoo-ins because both women have admitted that the photos are theirs.
Oh lucky them; they're shoo-ins! I'm sure Lawrence and Johannson are just bursting with exuberance at finding that out.
To stave off criticism that I don't "understand art," let me stop you right there. I've been defending art and artists for so long in my life, it's almost a knee-jerk response for me at this point. I know that this type of project is specifically done to provoke thought, emotion, response, etc. Some artists and critics will tell you that the mark of a great piece of art is that it makes you uncomfortable. OK, fine. I get it. So please don't tell me they're just doing this to "be provocative" because A) I get it B) that doesn't excuse how awful it is and oh by the way did I mention C) I GET IT.
I. GET. IT.
I stand by FunkyUppercaseLetterName's right to express himself in anyway he sees fit, I really do. But that doesn't mean that I don't also have a right to call him out for this extraordinary example of tone-deaf bullshittery.
This exhibit isn't "art." OK, that's not fair. I take it back. You can call it "art," because that's a subjective title and it shouldn't be up to anyone, including me to determine what does or does not constitute art. So let me take another approach. This isn't a grand statement about culture and technology. This is someone printing out photos and tacking them up on a wall to make some half-assed message about Google and privacy. Yeah, Google is all up in our business. Believe me, we know. Do we really need a bunch of pretentious hipsters standing around drinking chardonnay in plastic cups ogling photos that were stolen from innocent women to tell us that? Here's a good answer for you—NO WE FUCKING DO NOT.
What's most insulting about this (yes, aside from from the gross exploitation of these women and their right to privacy) is the idea that it's somehow being done to make a statement about the sexist nature of digital culture and society. The artist not only wants to exploit these women by crudely displaying their images, but he also wants a fucking cookie because he has gifted us with his own magical realization that this is a horrible violation. Oh give me a break, dude. The idea that men are exempt from accusations of misogyny simply because they place themselves in fields traditionally associated with allies (such as the art world) is utter bullshit.
Ultimately, you're just another asshole exploiting these women for your own gain, except you've slapped the label "artist" on your shenanigans to act as some sort of buffer against criticism, as though that might differentiate you from the sick assholes who have been trying to make money off of this since day one. It actually doesn't. You may as well tack up photos of your new Reddit account and contributions to r/TheFappening, because that's basically what this "art exhibit" amounts to.
Image via Shutterstock.