Estonian gallery told to remove fake Trump and Diana billboard images

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Adverts with ‘photographs’ by UK artist Alison Jackson deemed to have broken law

A fake image of Princess Diana by the UK artist Alison Jackson
A fake image of Princess Diana by the UK artist Alison Jackson. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The
A fake image of Princess Diana by the UK artist Alison Jackson. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The
Central and eastern Europe correspondent

Last modified on Wed 1 Jul 2020 12.24 EDT

Authorities in Estonia have ordered an art gallery to remove billboards showing mocked-up images of Donald Trump and Princess Diana by the British artist Alison Jackson.

A photograph of a Trump lookalike having sex with a fake Miss Mexico and a picture of Diana giving a middle-fingered salute were deemed to contravene local advertising laws. Tallinn’s Fotografiska gallery has been ordered to take down a billboard featuring the images that was advertising the exhibition. The ruling does not affect the display inside the gallery.

“Everyone has the right and freedom of choice to visit a photo exhibition and view works exhibited there, but the same cannot be said for displaying the same art exhibition works in outdoor advertising spaces which could be seen by minors,” Kairi Vaher, the head of the city’s business authority, told local media.

According to Estonian law, adverts can be banned on grounds of obscenity or using images of people as sexualised objects, as well as for using images of people without their consent. The city authorities believe the exhibition adverts violate the law.

Margit Aasmäe, the chief executive of Fotografiska, said the gallery would comply with the ruling but believed it to be misplaced.

“The issue is broader: in our digital world you can find photographs with much more nudity, even on serious news channels, as well as false information which could reach even more people than our adverts for the exhibition,” she told the local news site Delfi. She said the adverts included text explaining that they were not real images.

The gallery plans to replace the billboards with plain-text signs reading “Truth is dead” – the name of Jackson’s exhibition.

Other creations by the artist have included a photograph of Silvio Berlusconi massaging Angela Merkel’s shoulders, and a video of an Osama bin Laden lookalike singing Poker Face by Lady Gaga. Jackson has said one of the goals of her work is to explore how photography is often a “deceitful medium”.