Tobey Maguire is a person. He became an actor and Hollywood took over. Basically, Spiderman hijacked Tobey Maguire. Then a photography website seized the figurative representation not caring less if it's the character or the person they're using for profit. Radu Nastasia is now the owner of the picture of Spiderman impersonated by Tobey Maguire. Therefore, Radu also owns Spiderman, and Tobey Maguire?
Both aesthetical and ethical arguments are at issue here. The act of appropriation in our culture is so common and deeply embedded that questioning it has become an aporia. It is a relentless discussion nevertheless as it brings to surface layers and layers of meaning. The premises afore asserted and the conclusion that artist Radu Nastasia is the owner of the image he has integrated in the urban structure of Peckham actually build a deductively valid argument. To a certain extent, this logic is correct, but then again the conclusion is not exactly acceptable, which makes it a weak inductive argument. In the process of the production of knowledge it is de rigueur to pursue rationalization. However, what if the rationalization is established on apocryphal propositions? Opening to the public doesn't have to necessarily mean abdication to the all mighty capitalist machine; an image doesn't have to necessarily 'sell' something. By (re)inserting Tobey Maguire/Spiderman's picture in a circuit that is utterly capitalist--the billboard is one of the strongest instruments of contemporary commerce--Radu is smoothly reversing the act of appropriation he is criticizing. Although it appears to, the billboard sells nothing.
P.S. Spiderman: Homecoming (2017) is now showing in cinemas. Tobey Maguire is not in it.
Text by Adriana Ledecouvreur