US & Canada

Instagram shuts down artist's account at National Gallery's request

@nationalgallerycanada Instagram account Image copyright Jay Isaac
Image caption Jay Isaac's Instagram account @nationalgallerycanada curated art from established and emerging Canadian artists.

Canada's national art museum is having a row with a Canadian artist over an Instagram account.

Artist Jay Isaac posted images of famous and unknown Canadian artists to his account @nationalgalleryofcanada.

He says the name was a comment on Canada's government-funded high-culture industry.

But Instagram deleted the account for violating its terms of use after a complaint from the real National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

The museum says the name was "confusing for our members, visitors and the general public, and it put the Gallery at risk for copyright infringement".

The museum blocked him from following them on Instagram, and complained to the social media company.

"Instagram took what they deemed appropriate action which, in this case, was to disable the account for violating their terms of use," said spokesperson Josée-Britanie Mallet in an email.

Before being disabled, the account had been running for a year-and-a-half and had about 7,000 followers.

Mr Isaac, however, said the account was an art project and that he chose the name to comment on the fact that Canadian art is more diverse than what is presented in museums such as the National Gallery.

"I kind of meant it as a joke," he told the BBC. "It wasn't a matter of imitation, but the idea of mimicry and mimicry as a potentially subversive act."

Mr Isaac said the account linked to his personal account and clearly belonged to him, not the museum.

Image copyright Jay Isaac
Image caption A work of art by Fred Trask, an artist outside Canada's mainstream art scene

He used the Instagram account to highlight emerging artists and "outsider" artists like Fred Trask, running the images alongside well-known and historical Canadian artists like Jock MacDonald.

Mr Isaac said the goal was to create "an alternative history" from the one created by Canada's venerated art institutions.

"These institutions, although they are very worthwhile and serve a purpose, they don't need to be the dominant voice," he said.

Image copyright Jay Isaac
Image caption A 2015 painting by artist Jay Isaac, whose Instagram account @nationalgallerycanada was shut down.

A painter himself, Mr Isaac's work has been shown in many respected galleries and is part of the inside of the Canadian art scene.

"I was a little bit surprised there was no dialogue," he said, about the museum's quick actions to shut down his account.

But he's not upset.

"I'm happy with the way this ended, it's actually the perfect full circle," he said. "It got shut down, so in a way it reinforces my ideas around it."

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