Emily Ratajkowski is reclaiming her image (and the right to earn from it), by selling a photo of herself posing in front of a work by Richard Prince.
Back in September last year, Emily Ratajkowski shared with the world the story of an artist who appropriated one of her shared photos and sold a canvas print of it for $90,000.
To get back at him, the model/actress has announced the launch of an NFT of an image of herself posing in front of that exact print. Apart from the obvious – wanting to take control of her image, Ratajkowski also wants to raise awareness about the unfair treatment of women in art.
The digital terrain should be a place where women can share their likeness as they choose, controlling the usage of their image and receiving whatever potential capital attached. Instead, the internet has more frequently served as a space where others exploit and distribute image
— Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) April 23, 2021
As Ratajkowski wrote on Instagram, “the digital terrain should be a place where women can share their likeness as they choose, controlling the usage of their image and receiving whatever potential capital attached. Instead, the internet has more frequently served as a space where others exploit and distribute images of women’s bodies without their consent and for another’s profit.“
Back in 2014, Ratajkowski discovered an enlarged print of one of her Instagram photos hanging in the Gagosian Gallery, on Madison Avenue. Artist Richard Prince had printed the image on a large canvas and was selling it for $90,000.
Prince hadn’t even asked for permission to use the image and Ratajkowski ended up paying $81,000 to get the canvas. She expressed her frustration about having to spend the money, commenting that she could have just scrolled through her Instagram if she wanted to look at it.
The NFT she is now auctioning off at Christie’s from May 14 – Buying Myself Back: A Model for Redistribution – is a photo of her standing in front of Prince’s image, thus taking it back, and making a statement about ownership in art – and about the misuse of women’s image for the benefit of male artists.
“With the advent of blockchain technology and the availability of the non-fungible token (NFT) as a viable digital medium, Ratajkowski boldly reclaims her image, and the commercial properties therein, by employing the NFT as a tradeable metaphor for that which has no physical embodiment,” reads the Lot Essay on the auction page.
“In carving its presence on the immutable, universal Ethereum blockchain ledger, the NFT facilitates Ratajkowski’s message in a way that breaks new ground for feminist art history and practice.”
As it is a custom with NFT auctions, Ratajkowski will also make a cut from the profit of future sales.
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