A few weeks ago, the fate of the infamously graffiti-tagged 5 Pointz building appeared to be certain doom. But in a frantic effort to save the Long Island City warehouse from becoming new condo towers, the artists and their attorney Jeannine Chanes have secured a temporary restraining order preventing any work on the building by G & M Realty or its owners Jerry and David Wolkoff. The 10-day restraining order will temporarily hold wrecking balls at bay while Judge Frederic Block decides if the artwork plastered all over the building can be protected by the law as fine art.
The artists and Chanes presented Judge Block with an obscure law known as the Visual Artists Rights Act of 1990. The lesser-known, and largely untested law, prevents the alteration or destruction fine arts. In this case the Wolkoffs cannot break down the graffiti mural covered walls at 5 Points without written permission from its original creators.
While discussing the complexities of the law on WNYC radio, Chanes said the law protects any works of art whose stature has been recognized by art experts, other members of the artistic communities, or some cross section of society. Technically the VARA law has a court exception when the work is done without permission from the building owners. However, Chanes argues that the Wolkoff generously allowed street artists to use the former warehouse as their canvas beginning in 1993.
In the coming days, the artists hope the judge will announce the hearing for a preliminary injunction before October 28, allowing the artist to testify for the continued survival of 5 Pointz.
via WNYC Radio
Second Image © 5 Pointz Facebook