A Los Angeles artist is planning to display uncensored nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence, Scarlett Johansson and other celebrities whose intimate images were recently stolen and then posted online.
The show could test the boundaries between art and privacy, freedom of speech and content ownership. Lawrence, for one, warned in a statement that authorities ...
... will prosecute anyone who posts the stolen photos ...
The hack was being investigated by the FBI.
XVALA told us, "I hope we don't need an attorney." But he said he definitely plans to move forward with the exhibition, with the backing of the gallery.
"I'm taking them off the internet and putting them into a new medium that is transformative," he said. "I'll be using them as commentary."
The artist says he hasn't entirely decided yet which pilfered images he'll display, but that Lawrence's and Johansson's are shoo-ins because both women have admitted that the photos are theirs.
The art show is titled "No Delete," and it's part of an ongoing "Fear Google"-themed series that showcases "the artist’s seven-year collection of images found on Google of celebrities in their most vulnerable and private moments," according to a statement from the gallery:
In 2011, XVALA posted the leaked nude images of actress Scarlett Johansson throughout the streets in Los Angeles with “Fear Google” logo covering her intimate areas.
The photos from that collection were snapped by paparazzi or stolen by hackers, XVALA acknowledges, and that's part of his point:
I'm calling attention to the fact that our information should be our own and it's not. I feel like if we can't call personal property personal it becomes public property. I would rather hit a delete button and have this go away. The perfect world would be where we can control our information, but nobody can.
XVALA suggested that, despite crimes like the one that has affected the hacked celebrities, the government and corporations have a stake in ensuring that our data is not entirely our own.
"When it comes to your personal information it's always going to be in some form of backup," he said. "There's no delete. Your information exists somewhere."
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There are those, no doubt, who will call XVALA out as no better than the people who posted the photos online — someone who's exploiting the victims of this crime for fame and, perhaps, fortune.
But the artist insists he's using the imagery, to be presented on large canvas media with the words "fear Google" on the side profiles of the canvases, to point out the deal with the devil we've all made when it comes to storing our private information online:
People have been promoting technology as this great thing, which it is, but we feel immune to the side effects. You have that nightmare where you're naked in public and can't do anything about it. This is that. It's a nightmare come true.