Last weekend UVA installed an enormous sculpture by Alexander Calder in front Peabody Hall, across from the West Range. The 12′ black, metal work, entitled “Tripes,” is a long-term loan from the Calder Foundation. In front of the sculpture, the university posted a sign reading, in part: “No photography allowed without written permission from the Calder Foundation.” UVA’s Committee on Public Art insisted that copyright law prohibited any pictures being taken of the sculpture. (As you can guess, no such law exists.)
If there’s one thing that lots of people want to do, it’s what they’ve been told arbitrarily that they must not do. Yesterday dozens of students showed up for a “photo-in” protest, Emily Poe writes for The Cavalier Daily. Organized on Facebook, the goal was to have lots of people simply show up and take verboten photographs at the appointed hour. I counted about fifty people snapping pictures (the sculpture is across the street from my office), and many of their photos have been posted to Facebook. By the end of the day yesterday, UVA announced that they were rescinding the ban, saying that the Calder Foundation had obligated them to make the false statement on the sign, but that they’d received permission to change it to say that only commercial photography is prohibited. While still not quite accurate, it’s not liable to result in a student protest anytime soon.