Sunday, August 23, 2009

While reading Saturday’s Globe & Mail newspaper I noticed something missing on Page F12 of their “Books” section. In the "PICTURE PERFECT >> ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF THE WEEK" box were four reproductions of art works by Northwest Coast artists and some text on the book from which they came – yet no mention of the artists who made the work. The book is Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast (Douglas & McIntyre/McMichael Canadian Art Collection), and the author is Vancouver Art Gallery senior curator Ian M. Thom.

In reviewing the item a second time I did, however, notice this below the column title: "CHALLENGING TRADITION >> More images and text at," which led me to the site, where a further five images were supplied (in addition to the four in their print version), each with proper attribution.

But the shock of my first reading remained, a reminder of how, until recently, contemporary art by Aboriginal artists was considered artifact, belonging not to the art of today but to time immemorial (the denial of one's history, not to mention their name, being the temporal equivalent of land expropriation). What’s more, I would have thought that The Globe would not have left out the names of the artists whose work they were showing in their print version in order to get me online.

I think a line needs to be drawn when it comes to showing an artist’s work in a newspaper and making sure the name of that artist appears beside it. I’m sure The Globe would never do this to a news photographer or agency whose work was on their print version’s front page (just as they wouldn't publish such an image without a description of its content). So why the double standard?

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