Blogpost n 1: Inspiration versus Plagiarism

Hi to everybody and thank you for reading what I want to say, and to think and discuss it together! This is my very first blog post about photography and I hope you are interested in sharing your ideas and experiences with me.

Yesterday, once more, I visited a museum. It was an excellent exhibition of Belgian Jan Fabre in the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul de Vence. Among dozens of sculptures, one was outstanding to me. Being Italian and with a passion for art, much to the surprise of the other art lovers around me I recognized the sculpture “Il Cristo Velato” made in 1753 by Giuseppe Sanmartino and conserved in the Sansevero Chapel in Naples. But in fact, it was not this sculpture but an almost identical one, with a female head and breasts. Astonishingly, neither the title (“Gisant”) nor the dedication (to the American neuro-anatomist Elizabeth Caroline Crosby) referred to the original work which even the museum guide never even heard of. Later I read that in 2011, Fabre exposed a “Pietà” at the Biennale in Venice – same situation, a plagiarism of a well-known classical oeuvre.

A plagiarism? For a long time I have been discussing this issue with friends and artists. I am not concerned so far with plagiarism but maybe one day the problem arises. So far, I watch someone´s work and get inspired, and I take pictures that are influenced by what I saw – this way I develop my creativity.

So today´s philosophical question: Where is the line between inspiration and plagiarism, in photography and in art in general? When is appropriation legitimate? Is it enough to build up your own conceptual idea around a picture or series even though it may copy something already existing? How can I defend my work against the accusation of plagiarism if I develop an idea, that is only partially new?

Thanks for your thoughts! Pia

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