The Guttenbergs of the World: Are we all Thieves?

Temitayo Ogunbiyi’s exhibit “Am I a Thief?” hits close to home for Germans, especially given the former German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg resignation after accusations of plagiarizing his doctoral thesis arose last year. Rumor has it he wasn’t the only one. I visited the exhibit wondering: are we all Guttenbergs?

Temitayo has lived, studied, and produced art in both the United States and Nigeria. Leaving New York City, which she describes as “a beast” with only one way to get where you want to go as an artist, she found more room for artistic freedom and creativity in her home city of Lagos in Nigeria. The title of her traveling exhibit, “Am I a Thief?“, speaks to our generation’s relationship with digital technologies and media in a globalized world — when we reinterpret or reproduce ideas and images found online, is that considered stealing? We sure hope not.

Ownership of intellectual property and tangible items easily becomes blurred; moreover, copyright laws aren’t always easy to understand — especially in international settings. Years ago while visiting Berlin, Temitayo took material from Teufelsberg to use for artwork, she didn’t ask anyone if it was okay because in those situations, who do you ask? So she took a risk.

On January 29th, Temitayo will be celebrating the last day of her exhibit at the Freies Museum in Berlin. There will be an interactive artist talk, presentation of her artwork, and an audience discussion Her exhibit is growing day by day, as she continues to add more mixed media (think: fabric & digital textile, painting, collage) artwork to her collection. Join in on the 29th at 5pm to see the final production and to find out “together whether we are all criminals on some level.”

  • Freies Museum Berlin “Temitayo Ogunbiyi. Am I a Thief?”, January 14th – January 29th, Monday – Saturday 12pm – 7pm, Sunday 3pm – 6pm, Thursday 12pm – 10pm