A landmark decision stemming from altering a public artwork in Canada in 1982 changed the way the work of artists is respected and entrenched clauses of the Canadian Copyright Act for the betterment of all artists.
Michael Snow, an internationally acclaimed artist, was commissioned by the Eaton Centre in Toronto to create an artwork for this popular downtown shopping mall. Flight Stop, consisting of 60 fiberglass Canada geese, was installed in the atrium in 1979.
Soaring up six stories overhead, the work is both arresting and strangely calming as it juxtaposes an image of grand freedom with the frenetic business of commerce below.
During the Christmas season of 1981, the mall owners thought it would be festive to tie red ribbons around the necks of the geese. Michael Snow was not amused.
Snow brought legal action against the Eaton Centre, getting an injunction to have the ribbons removed. He argued that the decorations violated the intent of his work, infringed upon his moral rights, and damaged his reputation as an artist.
The court agreed and said “the plaintiff is adamant in his belief that his naturalistic composition has been made to look ridiculous by the addition of ribbons and suggests it is not unlike dangling earrings from the Venus de Milo. While the matter is not undisputed, the plaintiff’s opinion is shared by a number of other well-respected artists and people knowledgeable in his field.” Read the rest of this entry »