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Statement concerning legal proceedings against Ida Ekblad
Ida Ekblad, installation view, Kunsthaus Hamburg, 2017. Courtesy the artist and Kunsthaus Hamburg. Photo: Hayo Heye


BERLIN.- Following up on the media coverage of the past weeks concerning the legal proceedings initiated by BIRKENSTOCK's CEO Oliver Reichert against artist Ida Ekblad, we would like to inform you about the current status of the proceedings with a statement by the law firm Bauschke Braeuer that is representing Ida Ekblad.

In her solo exhibition titled “Diary of a Madam“ at Kunsthaus Hamburg, which ended on 26 March 2017, Ida Ekblad showed a work that includes the portrait of a girl. The portrait is a detail taken from a BIRKENSTOCK billboard. The portrayed girl closely resembles the artist as a child.

On 13 March 2017, upon Reichert’s application, the Hamburg district court issued a preliminary injunction against Kunsthaus Hamburg prohibiting Kunsthaus Hamburg to exhibit the work. The portrayed girl is Reichert's daughter. Reichert accuses Kunsthaus Hamburg and the artist of having violated his daughter's personal rights. The inunction required Kunsthaus Hamburg to temporarily close the exhibition. The exhibition reopened after the original portrait was replaced by a picture of Ekblad as a child. Kunsthaus Hamburg has filed an objection against the injunction.

Further preliminary injunctions have been filed by Mr Reichert against Ida Ekblad as well as by the BIRKENSTOCK advertisement campaign's photographer Anders Overgaard against both Ida Ekblad and Kunsthaus Hamburg. Overgaard argues that the work infringes his copyrights as a fashion photographer.

On 31 March 2017, the Hamburg district court fully rejected photographer Overgaard’s claims. The court has acknowledged that the use of the advertising photo in Ida Ekblad's artwork is covered by the constitutional right of artistic freedom.

In the Reichert case, the Hamburg district court has scheduled a hearing for 7 April. In deciding the case, the court will have to weigh the depicted child's personal rights against the artist’s and the exhibitor's artistic freedom. The question at issue is whether it is permissible to use a picture of a minor originally published for commercial purposes in the context of an artwork.

STATEMENT
by Ida Ekblad
Sunday March 26, 2017


My show at Kunsthaus Hamburg is, like most of my shows, a visual exploration and aesthetic boundary pushing through the means of painting, sculpture and photography. I always employ a range of different source material. For most shows I have a looming sub theme that ties the artworks together. This show in particular focused on my visual memory as a necessary Ğresearch archiveğ for working as an artist, a source for personal exploration — at the same time I wanted it to outline memory as an unfaithful servant.

The big frieze depicting Venetian Murano glass is a painterly exercise utilizing material that has a specific personal story attached to it. It draws upon memories from a trip to Venice that I did with my father in 1982 — a story of abandonment, with the Murano glass as a savior of sorts. The frieze was intended to be the centre piece of the show.

Just days prior to my first site visit to Hamburg, early this year, I passed a billboard, posted on street level in Berlin. Both my boyfriend and I was mesmerized by how much one of the three girls in the image looked like me as a child. We took some iPhone images of me in front of the poster, and in addition I took some snapshots of the girls face. On my way to Hamburg I thought about how this commercial poster triggered childhood memories in me, almost on the level of my personal memory of the Murano vases.

On arrival in Hamburg I had already decided that I wanted to use these photos as additional material for the show, since they pinpointed the interchangeability of deep personal stories and random commercial imagery. I wanted to make an exhibition that would come across as a kind of eschewed biographical picture book.

As I pasted my last name EKBLAD across reproductions of the photos of the billboard, I thought I would claim a kind of (metaphorical) ownership to commercialized imagery that bordered on my personal memories, to highlight the slipperiness of my actual memories, and to investigate how unstable and untrustworthy memories are, as such. The most concrete manifestation of me as a child in the show would be a portrait of a girl who wasn’t me — just confusingly similar.

As the posters were based on iPhone images of a billboard that already existed in public space, it did not dawn on me that it would be a problem to reproduce them. The poster was never intended to be hostile towards the girl or her family, quite the opposite: I identified with an unknown girl and tried to make her a part of my story — or vice versa. I hope she and her family can think of it not so much as a theft than a homage.






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