Fair Use

Fair Use

Fair Use: Appropriation in Recent Film and Video features works by Candice Breitz, Omer Fast, Christian Jankowski, Les LeVeque, Matthias Müller, and Eddo Stern on video monitors in the Hammer Museum’s lobby gallery. Presenting varied strategies of appropriation and sampling in film and video from the last decade, Fair Use explores the exceedingly prevalent redirection and alteration of existing media. These processes resonate in work by artists who treat media as raw material and who turn the tools and products of information distribution against itself.

Fair Use is a thesis exhibition presented by Matthew Thompson for the Master of Arts in Critical and Curatorial Studies, UCLA Department of Art, in conjunction with the Hammer Museum. Support is provided by the Ruth Peskin Distinguished Artists Fund.


  • Craig Baldwin
  • Candice Breitz
  • Omer Fast
  • Johan Grimonprez
  • Christian Jankowski
  • Les LeVeque
  • Matthias Müller
  • Brian Springer
  • Eddo Stern


By Matthew Thompson

The use and alteration of preexisting images from mass media, a pervasive technique within contemporary art, has become exceedingly prevalent in film and video work. More than simply remixing and manipulating their sources, artists are actively engaging in the appropriation and inhabitation of media forms such as newscasts, live call-in shows, commercials, video games, Hollywood narrative cinema, and found amateur footage. Finding analogs in practices that occupy the sites they seek to contest—computer hacking and graffiti being two examples—the resulting works turn a strong preexisting infrastructure to their own use. And, more often than not, the sampled material is redeployed in a manner that subverts its original purpose or context.

In this sense, the term appropriation connotes a turn away from the appropriate. In legal terms, “fair use” refers to the right to use copyrighted materials for educational or noncommercial purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Other factors that determine whether a use is fair include the nature of the copyrighted work, how substantial the portion used is in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole, and whether the use would have any impact on the market for the copyrighted work. Although one could argue that the use of preexisting material in the films and videos presented in this exhibition is fair, many copyright experts believe that the concept of fair use has little practical relevance in a society in which the fear of costly litigation compels many to seek permission before using any portion of a copyrighted work.

 Fair Use. Craig Baldwin’s Sonic Outlaws  Spin  

For CNN Concatenated  CNN Concatenated  Soliloquy Trilogy  CNN Concatenated  Soliloquy Trilogy 


 CNN Concatenated  Soliloquy Trilogy  pulse pharma phantasm  Autocraving 

 Vietnam Romance  dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y  Vacancy 


1. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 18.

2. Kathrin Becker, "Beyond and Back," in Matthias Müller: Album (Frankfurt: Revolver, 2004), 31.

3. Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York: A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 42.