So yesterday I decided to go into Blackburn's the Mall to rephotograph the Art Everywhere Uk artworks with a better camera that I used before. After photographing a nice image of Cornelia Parker's work outside Debenhams and Poundworld I stumbled to Howard Hodgkin's work and soon as I whipped out the camera, I was accosted by two burly security guards who started to chastise me for taking photographs on public property.
They intimidated me quite a bit and treated me like I was a criminal and slightly deviant to want to take such photographs. I presently told them that the Art Everywhere public arts are just that and that I was allowed and encouraged to photograph these works. The poster even had a mobile phone motif that I think symbolise such acts as photography. The security guards poo-pooed my efforts of explaination and with having a red-face that incorporated both anger and embarrassment, this whole drama was being taken place in the midst of a busy shopping centre and in front of a clothing shop, I was escorted to the management's office.
So after the events that transpired at ground level on the Mall, I was confronted with a drone from the office where I explained the predicament and why I wanted to photograph and document the Art Everywhere posters in the shopping centre and also other artworks that are placed in the open, public sphere. She didn't understand the concept of public art and why somebody can be interested and excited in such works. I then told her about an online/twitter competition where the public are encouraged to document the works in the setting of the public realm in order to differentiate the often stilfled environment of an art gallery or museum. She didn't understand the ulturistic nature of wanting other people to see your own photography and not winning prizes. She thought that to win a competition is to win prizes but I rather like having the recognition of my photography and having others appreciating it. I was also told to write a letter stating my intentions of photographing and documenting the posters. This would be quite pointless because as time dominates public hoardings etc, I would be too late.
I asked for somebody higher up in the office to speak to and this guy came and I had to explain again what I tried to do and he told me that He doesn't even know what the posters are or what Art Everywhere is or meant. I recommended him to read what the concepts meant and he declined stating he would be happy to have whatever advertised within the shopping centre. I even pointed out the mobile phone emblem on the poster and he shrugged it off saying that it means nothing to him.
He then tried to appease me with an invitation to photograph the works at 8.30am in the morning when it isn't too busy. The thing is, I don't live in Blackburn so this wouldn't be conducive and that I won't be in the area for another few weeks. I will miss the opportunity to document the art and also would be very shame-faced and embarrased when I get there, as I will be classed as a trouble maker. I will know be held in suspicion whenever I have to use the Mall in the future.
What I learnt was that the Mall doesn't know what 'Clear Channel' advertises in their premises and that they don't understand relative simple standpoint based on public property and public art. If somebody donated a piece of sculpture in the Mall, I don't think this would be able unavailable to photograph either.
So, by having these posters within their environment they have negated the right for the public to fully appreciate and capture such works. To be made to be a criminal, they have invaded my right as a human being to develop my love for the arts. and lastly, The Mall have made use of Art Everywhere but has created a barrier that boycots the Art Everywhere intentions and concepts.