|Type||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||66 cm × 117 cm (26 in × 46 in)|
|Location||Courtesy of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC|
Joy Garnett (born 1965 ) is a painter and writer in Brooklyn, New York, United States. Garnett's paintings, based on photographs and technical imagery, examine the intersections of media, politics and culture. She engages contemporary consumption of media and the delineation between journalistic and artistic images. She is married to visual artist Bill Jones.
Controversy surrounding her 2003 painting Molotov has drawn international scrutiny to issues of ownership and fair use.
Education and early career
Garnett completed her undergraduate work at McGill University in Quebec, Canada in 1983. In 1984 she went to Paris to study painting, and in 1985 she enrolled at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. She returned to New York in 1988 and entered the graduate program at The City College of New York; she received her MFA in 1991. While attending City College, Garnett received the Elizabeth Ralston McCabe Connor Award.
After graduating, her work was exhibited in several group shows, including the Summer Show at Debs & Co., New York in 1999. Debs & Co. also hosted her first solo exhibition the following spring, entitled "Buster-Jangle", a collection of paintings that appropriated photos of atomic bomb tests from the 1950s that Garnett found on the web after they were released by the US government under the Freedom of Information Act. Her work was reviewed and noted for its exploration of a “paradoxical realm of terrible beauty… tying together the histories of the bomb and American landscape painting."
The Bomb Project
In 1997, while doing research for her first solo exhibition, Garnett began gathering images and documents about nuclear testing from primary sources on the Internet. Eventually this resulted in an online compilation of material known as The Bomb Project. Spawned from her extensive imagery search, it led to an experimental recontextualization of images in a constantly growing archive. In creating The Bomb Project, Garnett addresses the role of the digital image as a cultural artifact, and attempts to reveal the information and hegemonic coding within these images with as little intervention as possible. She seeks to “establish a context where art, science and government are presented as interlocking and overlapping areas.” Since its launch in 2000, the Bomb Project has been expanded to include still and moving declassified imagery, as well primary source documents, links to current events and news articles. The original documentation, produced by the nuclear industry, is offered side by side with activist views, providing a context for comparative study, analysis and creativity. In its current form, the compendium is intended to be used as a resource for other artists.
Use of found images
Garnett explores the problem of the found object by re-mediating and transforming the image of a journalistic photograph by painting it, thereby both shifting its context and opening it up for multiple interpretations by the viewer, as is consistent within the framework and context of art.
Molotov and surrounding controversy
|Type||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||178 cm × 152 cm (70 in × 60 in)|
Garnett's 2004 exhibition Riot featured a series of paintings based on images pulled from mass media sources, depicting figures in "extreme emotional states." One of the paintings, entitled Molotov, was originally sourced from a jpeg found on the Internet that was later discovered to be a fragment of a larger photograph taken by Susan Meiselas during the Sandinista Revolution (1979). After the Riot exhibition closed, Meiselas's lawyer contacted Garnett with a cease and desist letter claiming copyright infringement and "piracy" of Meiselas' photograph. Garnett acceded, but popular support for her artwork, marshalled via Rhizome.org, inspired a solidarity campaign called Joywar, in which images of Garnett's painting were reposted widely on the Internet, or remixed and circulated in new forms.
The incident has become a prominent case-study of re-use in art.
- Brewer, Paul: Curator's Statement. "Blasts," G Fine Art, Washington, DC, Sept 10 - Oct 22, 2005
- Anonymous Was A Woman, press release 2004
- Anonymous Was A Woman, official site
- Griffin, Tim. “Joy Garnett, Buster-Jangle.” TimeOut NY, Issue No. 193 June 3–10, 1999.
- The Bomb Project, (about page)
- Butler, Sharon, "Blast Radius," The Huffington Post, October 25, 2010
- Strange Weather, catalogue essay, Lucy Lippard, Strange Weather, The National Academy of Sciences, 2005
- Riot, Debs & Co., New York, January 15-February 21, 2004 Archived June 16, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
- Susan Meiselas, "Sandinistas at the walls of the Esteli National Guard headquarters, Esteli, Nicaragua, 1979" 
- "Portfolio: On the Rights of Molotov Man - Appropriation and the art of context," by Joy Garnett and Susan Meiselas. Harper's Magazine (February 2007) [pp.53-58]
- Stephen Marvin, 'Copyright Innovation in Art', International Journal of Conservation Science, 4 (2013), 729-734 (pp. 731--72).
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