Thursday, October 31, 2013

A point about 5Pointz

And, on the subject of graffiti art, another interesting recent art law story is the VARA lawsuit brought by a group of artists to block the destruction of 5Pointz, "the graffiti mecca in Long Island City."  They got a preliminary injunction, with a fuller hearing scheduled for next week.  Here is one news report.

One interesting aspect of the case is the temporary nature of the works at issue.  The building owner points out that the website for the program notes that pieces are generally "left on display for anywhere from one day to two years," and are "typically displayed for a mere matter of days, weeks, or months, only to be painted over and replaced with a new image."  (I know that's to some extent a disputed fact in the case, but let's assume it's so for the moment.)  How should this affect our thinking about VARA's application?  Imagine that the practice was that each work stayed up for 24 hours and no more.  Could it be a VARA violation to paint over (or tear down) that work?