Recently Lukas contacted me to share with me his art/photography performance/exhibition. Steal my photograph is an interesting concept to the area of interactive art…theft. Come and read more.

Lukas has an different approach for bringing his photography to the general public, he invites the steal it!

On the streets of different cities around the world, Lukas sets up his work, and cameras to capture the moment in progress. This is a fun way of getting the people involved, but also raises interesting questions on the role of surveillance in society. I find the different reactions of different country people fascinting, I wonder how it would go down in Japan?

Lukas Renlund is from Finland but is currently globetrotting after having taken his interactive art exhibition Steal My Photography!  on the road over the last half year. In many ways his style lies at the intersection of art and fashion photography. Lukas enjoys challenging the eye and first perceptions of his audience.

Over to Lukas:

My name is Lukas. I am currently traveling around after having taken my interactive art exhibition Steal My Photograph! on the road over the last half year. With the exhibition I aim to create a real life experience for my audience. In addition to marketing my photography in a fun way. I simply invite people who pass by to steal my work.

In Barcelona I hid a GoPro camera behind each of my exhibited photographs and left them in different places around the city, unattended. The fun part; as people started stealing the works the GoPro caught them in the act, with their hands in the cookie jar so to speak. You can watch a video with the Barca highlights here

The third Steal My Photograph! exhibition of its kind was recently held in London – one of the most surveilled cities in the world. The theme for it was clear from the very beginning; identity theft and surveillance. How much of your identity are you willing to share for something free in return?

With the London film I want to offer people a valuable and thought-provoking perspective on what surveillance feels like. It is also about the exchange itself, something for something. Two different commodities. Your identity for a free artwork. But does paying with your identity still make it ‘free’?

You can see a video of the exhibitions here :

The idea for Steal My Photograph! (SMP) was inspired by a couple of thoughts, needs and insights that I had. Let me explain.

First, I wanted to find way to involve my audience in my photo-art, in an active way. There is a Chinese proverb that goes something like; Tell me and I’ll forget , Show me and I’ll remember, Teach me and I’ll understand, Involve me and I’ll tell my friends. 

How cool is it not to say, when friends ask you about your new wall art; “Yeap, I stole that photograph directly from the artist himself. Sweet, isn’t it?”. The ‘Art Thieves’ become ambassadors for my photography. That is exactly the kind of word-of-mouth I want.

Second, as we all know art in itself has no value. It is very difficult to put a price tag on “art”. So what determines an artworks value? Answer: the buyers perception of it’s value. So I set out to create a framework, a situation if you will, that made my art worth stealing.

Third, I am always curious about what my photo art looks like when it is hung in a real environment. By this I mean anything but a gallery. So I thought it could be fun to ask the my Art Thieves to send me a picture of where they have hung their stolen artwork. The instructions to do this are on the back of each framed photograph. Check out some of the submitted pictures I’ve gotten, They are awesome.

In the future I could see this project developing in a direction where other promising photographers also are making their own interactive exhibitions, all around the world. Ideally under the Steal My Photograph! umbrella, of course. Much like a TEDx event there would be criteria that would need to be followed i.e. every SMP event has to be filmed and edited into a short two-minute video and the Art Thieves would always have submit a photo afterwards. I’ve also played around with the idea of adding yet another twist to the game – any photograph can be re-stolen. So imagine your friend coming over for dinner and then discretely taking your wall art with him on his way home. That would be quite something, huh?

With this project I have so far visited Copenhagen, Barcelona and London. In 2014 I am planning on doing SMP events in Cape Town, Berlin, Prague, Helsinki and maybe even Paris or Amsterdam. Tokyo would be a fantastic experience, I’m sure. I love doing this but giving away my art for free, isn’t free for me. Unfortunately. I would like to raise more funds to do an Asia trip.

You can see more of Lukas’ work on his site and social media:

Thanks to Lukas for being kind enough to share this fascinating social experiment with us. I would be very interested to see a video of the world reactions to the act of theft and art in public.