Illegal Art: Freedom of Expression in the Corporate Age

January 25 - February 21 | Chicago
In These Times
2040 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Opening Sat. January 25, 6-9 pm

+ featuring lots of new material!
+ including many local Chicago artists

Sat. Jan. 25, 5 pm: Press conference with Kembrew McLeod. McLeod, a University of Iowa professor who has trademarked the phrase "freedom of expression."

Fri. Feb. 7 and Sat. Feb. 8: Movies and Mash-Ups
Each night at 7 and 8:30 pm: film selections from Illegal Art and Select Media's Digital Video Detournement
Each night at 9:30 pm-midnight: Performances by Evolution Control Committee and other mash-up DJs at the buddy space. Suggested donation.

Sat. Feb. 15, 6-8 pm: Panel debate organized in conjunction with The Public Square will feature Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford Law professor and the chair of Creative Commons. Additional artists will participate, including Dj Spooky, that Subliminal Kid (invited), and Mark Hosler of Negativland. At the Chicago Historical Society (at the south end of Lincoln Park). FREE

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The laws governing "intellectual property" have grown so expansive in recent years that artists need legal experts to sort them all out. Borrowing from another artwork--as jazz musicians did in the 1930s and Looney Tunes illustrators did in 1940s--will now land you in court. If the current copyright laws had been in effect back in the day, whole genres such as collage, hiphop, and Pop Art might have never have existed.

The irony here couldn't be more stark. Rooted in the U.S. Constitution, copyright was originally intended to facilitate the exchange of ideas but is now being used to stifle it.

The Illegal Art Exhibit will celebrate what is rapidly becoming the "degenerate art" of a corporate age: art and ideas on the legal fringes of intellectual property. Some of the pieces in the show have eluded lawyers; others have had to appear in court.

Loaded with gray areas, intellectual property law inevitably has a silencing effect, discouraging the creation of new works.

Should artists be allowed to use copyrighted materials? Where do the First Amendment and "intellectual property" law collide? What is art's future if the current laws are allowed to stand? Stay Free! considers these questions and others in our multimedia program.

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For in-depth information about copyright law and its impact on free expression, please see the new "copyright" issue of Stay Free! magazine, which includes the Illegal Art Catalog and will be available at all exhibit events. See also Copyright Articles, Illegal Art Links.

Illegal Art is sponsored by Stay Free! magazine, with support from the Internet Archives, In These Times, FOTA, Lumpen, Select Media, Ellis Avenue Studios, Prelinger Archives, and NYU's Center for Media, Culture, and History.

Illegal Art logo adapted from American Alphabet, by Heidi Cody
created 2002 :: :: a project of Stay Free!