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Šejma Ferré/ A Case of Plagiarism (Belgrade, Serbia)

October 27, 2016

We’ll see what we’ll do with these Šejma’s maps, although, as you know, I am not very happy with them, she could have tried a bit more or at least do what was finally asked from her. Speaking of perfectionism, the map is not our strong point

a representative of the Museum of African art in Belgrade about my drawing which they later plagiarized

In time when cases of plagiarism, forgeries, fake degrees, stolen intellectual properties and broken author rights are common, I didn’t expect to be in this company.

That is to say, in May this year, Museum of African art in Belgrade asked me to make a drawing representing a map of Africa. For my work they had promised me a symbolical fee (in an envelope). I have drawn the map and museum asked me to send the big file with my artwork to them. But soon after, the Museum decided to reject my artwork as unfit. They erased my name from the project and canceled the promised fee. ( From the letter the Museum has sent me: “Since the map will have to be made again, fee designed for Šejma covers the costs of new production.”.)

But in July, visiting the current exhibition in the museum, I saw that they had published my work in the catalog (that they sell) and as a big poster on the wall without neither authorization nor credit. The museum had simplified, distorted, and combined my drawing with the work of another author also unsigned Dr David Robinson (map of Saint-Louis at the end of the 19th century). It is a complete copy of my artwork, including the titles’ misspellings (Thiés, Nikolo Koba, Lac de Guier, Vallée d’Ferlol) and shapes of borders (the disappearance of Togo, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Djibouti, Eritrea, Sinai peninsula, lakes Victoria and Tanganyika and Cape of Good Hope).

I contacted the museum about this copyright infringement on 9th August 2016 but they continue to ignore this.

Šejma Ferré, visual artist

paralelni svet m.jpg

 

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Photos from Museum of African art in Belgrade, with plagiarized work exhibited and published in catalogue

 

English translation in chronological order of the correspondance between the Museum of African art and artist Šejma Fere about the project

14 May 2016,  16:18 , Museum wrote:

You can tell her that it will be printed on format 100(long)x120 (high), on banner (in the printing office they told me that what I think about is called a banner, and the canvas is something else).

This format is one that fits the wall.

Of course, if she wants square format than she should put 100x100cm, it won’t be a problem. Or maybe 120×120…although for this I need to measure the wall again.

Maybe she can draw something like what I send you in attachment… to have in a square up where it is compared to the whole African continent, and where it is compared to Senegal… What do you think?

15 May 2016, 02:15, Šejma wrote:

Greeting to all,

What is the deadline for map production? Does it have to be on a banner? If there is sufficient time for production, what do you think about idea of a handmade map – collage of different papers and drawing materials, dimensions 100x100cm? From materials would be used pencil, marker, adhesive foil, digital and xerox print on paper for some details, letraset letters;  different kind of papers; two batten for calendars/maps ( I have it in black and in white color, but also it could be wooden or to find some stick in park of 100cm).

Greetings,

Šejma

16 May 2016, 12:27 Museum wrote:

Dear Šejma,

First of all, thank you for your will and enthusiasm to be part of the team that prepares Katatina’s exhibition.

Opening of the exhibition is scheduled for 28th June. All materials we should have until the end of May, specially if it is about some kind of work of art, as would be in case of your collage.

Before we make the final decision whether it would it be the technique you proposed, I would like to ask you how much time you need to produce the map in collage technique and do you think it can be done by the end of May. In this case it would be photographed and put in catalog.

Map would be placed on the entrance to the small gallery of Museum (on the right side of doors), together with the banner, that would be placed on the left side of doors. On the banner would be written the title of exhibition in Cyrillic and in English, that are the two alphabets that will be used for the whole exhibition. If you use latinic writing, then please use on map the English language.

It is important that map and that banner are to be equalized, ie. to be compact and to present one nice visual intro to the exhibition in the small gallery. At some moment, I will put you in touch with the designer who is making the banner for the entrance, so two of you could communicate about colors and equalize. What he told me in our first conversation about your map is that he would like that you make first a decision about color pallet, because you work in collage technique, and then that to you two hear each other about equalizing.

Also, please use the color palette that is already on K’s photographs.

If you have need, you can come to the Museum to see the space and to talk about concept of the whole exhibition, so you can have in your head the overview of all elements and to match better.

Once again, thank you for support!

greeting,

16 May 2016, 21:52, Šejma wrote:

Dear Ivana and Katarina,

The time for production depends on how detailed and complicated would be the map, but I could make quickly the line version based on my templates, in 7 days (2 days for preparing and printing templates, 3 days drawing, 2 days scanning and preparing the digital file). We should specify the details that are to be on the map, decide whether it should be the drawing on paper or digital print of the drawing, and whether it should be some kind of map-collage with images and information or something monochrome, linear and simple.  Several white papers of different textures could serve as a surface for drawing (inspired with old maps that are patched with different papers) and on it could either draw or attach foils and letters…

In the attachment I send template for the drawing, made on the bases of maps you two had sent me (small map of Africa with the marked states, detailed map of Saint-Louis and big map of Senegal)

See you

Šejma

17 May 2016, 13:37, Museum wrote:

Dear Šejma and Katarina,

I really like this template. If you think that a collage work could be made that would be clear and obvious, but also not too flashy, it could be also a collage work.

What do you think? As for concerning the data, for me it is only important to mark where Senegal is, where Dakar is and where Saint-Louis is.

All other can be marked but don’t have to.

What I can imagine at the moment is this linear variant, something you made in your template, but the complicated one I cannot imagine how it can look like… so I don’t know what to tell you about that.

Could you make us some sketches, so we can see how what looks like so we can decide…?

8 June 2016, 12:00, Museum wrote:

Dear Šejma,

I am back from my travel and a bit got rid of the chaos of Afro Festival.

I looked at the last map you had sent, and I would like that we return to it together once Filip has finished the design of the title that will be on the other side of the doors, and then that we see if we can connect strongly those two concepts with some color or with something else.

Katarina told me you will travel, so I am interested until what date you will be available for eventual touch ups?

greeting,

8 June 2016, 12:26, Šejma wrote:

Dear Ivana,

OK, we can work on map when Filip prepares the title, and also Filip can intervene himself on the map.

I travel on 25th June and I hope we will manage to finish until then.

11 June.2016, 11:46, Museum wrote:

Dear Šejma,

Filip has sent the solution for the cover page of the catalog. Same as this will look the title on the entrance. Not identical, but surely with this colors and style. He polishs it still, but essentially, that is it.

I send you to see if you could your map, the basic draft, adapt to this language…to add some colors...what do you say?

greeting,

12 June 2016 , 16:30, Katarina wrote to Museum:

Hi Ivana,

I had to go back to this topic once again, because Šejma had called me yesterday, and because I had learn only yesterday about the details, I need to jump in and to ask you what we will do with this ‘problem’.

It is not a problem, but as I understood, Šejma feels a bit down , because it turns out, she didn’t adapt her map to the work of designer, and she tells me the designer didn’t even contact her and she doesn’t know how she could adapt the map to him, but that he should, I guess, use her drawing / or add some colors or something like that (minimally) and to adapt to general impression. I am sorry to interfere, this is only because I would like to understand what is going on and I wouldn’t like Šejma to be unhappy, because I was the one who involved her in the whole story.

She agrees that designer takes her drawing and – if necessary – to add something, to adapt it, but she is not ready herself to change or adapt anything else. So can it be like this: that designer takes over the map from this point as it is and to finalize the things the way you think it should? To adapt it in a way that would fit the general impression that was imagined?

12 June 2016, 16:52 Šejma Fere wrote:

Hey, I am not feeling down 🙂 But I think you should consider the function of poster, map and all, this adjustment with color and details without the general context is difficult, at least for me. My task was to make a drawing, and designer can freely manipulate the map.

13t June 2016, 12:37, Museum wrote:

Dear Katarina and Šejma,

There is no problem at all.

I had impression that Šejma wanted to add colors but was retaining herself because she didn’t know how the banner next to map will look like, so I thought that now it will be easier and nicer for her to put colors herself, than letting someone else change her map.

As now I realize that I had the wrong impression, I apologize and we go forward.

Šejma then finished her part of the job, Filip will adjust it.

To me it is only important that Šejma gave permission for it. In catalog we mentioned that she drew the map, so I thought it is important for her how it will look at the end. In her last e-mail Šejma mentioned that Filip can intervene, but I understood that it is only in case she can not or if she is not in Belgrade.

Šejma, thank you for your suggestions and observations.

As you said you travel on 25th June, and opening is on 28th June, tell when you can drop by to MAA so I could give you the envelope with the money that we put aside for the drawing of the map. You have to pick this up personally because I need your signature,

greeting,

13 June 2016, 13:15, Museum wrote:

Šejma,

please just send me once again this map version in the best possible resolution.

greeting,

13 June 2016, 13:32 Museum wrote:

Dear Šejma,

I would like to ask you to make us one more version and send in the best possible resolution.

This version should be on the new paper, just draw the contures and titles with black ink, all except the map of Saint-Louis, this you draw in gray ink. We need one version that doesn’t have shadows, but is totally clean.
We would appreciate to have this too, to be able to fit it all together.
greeting,

13 June 2016, 19:42, Šejma wrote:

Great that all is solved. I send the open file (text and maps) over Wetransfer, so it’s easier for further processing.

About the fee, I won’t be able to come before my trip, so only when I return in July,  or maybe to my bank account.

All the best,

14 June 2016, 10:47,  Museum wrote:

Thank you for the sent file, but please send us also the clean version, WITHOUT the shading.

This one with shading does not do the job for us.

Therefore, once again: contours and titles to be there.

Map of Africa, Senegal and titles to be in black ink, and city map of Saint-Louis to be in gray ink.

All to be clean without shading.

I think there is no use fixing the old one, it should be redrawn on the new clean paper and then to be scanned.

Concerning the money, you have to come personally to get it, because I need your signature.

Just make what we can use, please.

greeting,

18 June 2016, 14:06, Museum wrote to Katarina:

——-

We’ll see what we’ll do with these Šejma’s maps, although, as you know, I am not very happy with them, she could have tried a bit more or at least do what was finally asked from her. Speaking of perfectionism, the map is not our strong point

To sign Šejma like this?

Map

Šejma Fere

20 June 2016, 16:41 , Museum wrote:

Dear Katarina and Šejma,

Since I didn’t get the version of the map that I finally asked for (without shading), and since i clearly expressed my dissatisfaction with the existing design, I decided to open this issue to the collegium. I submitted the map made by Šejma and opened the voting for its final acceptance and inclusion in the catalog and exhibition.

Colleagues who have been present today voted that Šejma’s map nevertheless won’t be accepted and they convinced me that I shouldn’t make compromises if the map at the end doesn’t look the way we need.

 

I’m sorry to have to announce this, but Museum collective has decided like this, on my initiative to be put to a vote.

The directress was also for the change of the map.

 

To Šejma I thank her for her effort, I believe that it missed a little so that everything would have been OK and that map be inside the catalog and on exhibition, but we did not arrive to this end, and we have no time for any kind of waiting.

 

I hope that Šejma, and Katarina too, will understand this as a move that has nothing to do with them personally, but only with a vision of how everything should look like, and a map with shading does not enter into it. We tried all together to do something about it, we have not succeeded. From the bottom of my heart I wanted that Šejma at the end do this in a way so we can put in the catalog, but unfortunately, I did not get no response to a single email, let alone version without shading.

 

Since the map will have to be made again, fee provised for Šejma will cover the costs of new production.

 

Once again, I’m sorry that everything happened like this, I know that you both had nothing but good intentions, as finally I have had. I believe that we could have communicated it better, but what is done is done. Believe me, I’d be happiest that it didn’t have to come to this. For the part of the misunderstanding that was from me, I sincerely apologize.

 

To Šejma,  I wish all the best in her future work and she is always welcome to look at the exhibition.

Greeting,

 

 

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