Paul McCarthy’s HEAD SHOP/SHOP HEAD is currently up at S.M.A.K., the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst. Gent in Belgium. A visit to the exhibition page on their website reveals a fair number of “web2.0” options: users can create accounts with the museum website; embedded audio and flash video; the ability to leave comments; etc. Scrolling down to the bottom of the images available for McCarthy’s show, one sees a YouTube embedded video. My immediate reaction was ‘thats great!’ Someone at the Stedelijk was smart enough to embed some moving images into the webpage to make the content a little more dynamic and interesting!

Clicking on the player however one is confronted with the message: We’re sorry, this video is no longer available.

smak mccarthy

Sure enough a visit to the actual video page on YouTube lets you know:

smak mccarthy

My argument here is I’m curious who made the call to YouTube to report the video as copyrighted or owned by a specific party? Was there no agreement between McCarthy, his studio or gallery representation, and S.M.A.K. (a well-known and prestigious museum)? The video was not deleted by the uploader, it was removed by Google!

McCarthy is well-known for his video work, so it would make sense to have a video of some sort to tease audiences into coming to the museum! I don’t recognize the video thumbnail image, so I can’t speak for the importance of that specific video, but I remember once watching nearly every monitor of a row of McCarthy videos at the ICA in London and literally hogging the monitors! Each monitor only had one pair of headphones and it was my first encounter with some of the videos. I stood, watching each one all the way through, some 40 minutes long! I was laughing my ass off and I wouldn’t let anybody else have a go to know what was so funny, after all I paid to watch this stuff and I wanted to see it desperately! Of course putting a video on YouTube isn’t the same quality or standard of installation as seeing a work on monitor at the ICA, but it would help facilitate an awareness of what the artist is really known for, and generally just make the website more exciting!

But I’m mostly interested to know what the argument against having a video on YouTube was all about, who were the parties involved and who ultimately made the call. And why an artist may be potentially involved in the decision to restrict access to their work.

(Of course you can always watch a good number of McCarthy videos online over at the ubu web film archives)