Gone in 30 Seconds: Photog Holds Show and Invites Strangers to Steal His Photos

Copenhagen, Denmark-based photographer Lukas Renlund recently came up with a neat way of drumming up some excitement over his photographs. He held a public photo exhibition called “Steal My Photograph!” that turned out to be possibly the world’s shortest show. After hanging up 40 framed photographs on a wall outdoors, Renlund invited passersby to take any single photograph they desired, with one condition: they had to hang it up, photograph it, and then email the photo and description to Renlund.

Here’s what the printed instructions looked like (it was placed on the wall next to the photos):

The show was a hit. Every photograph was ripped off the wall within 30 seconds of the show’s “opening”:

Even babies got in on the action. After all, you can never be too young to appreciate art, right?

You can find more photos shot during the event in this Facebook album. Here’s a short video by cinematographer Anders Lönnfeldt that shows the thievery going down:

Pretty soon, the email responses began rolling in from satisfied thieves who are now enjoying the fruits of their crime. Here’s a sampling:

I came to your Copenhagen-event by coincidence on my way back to Germany from a holiday in Norway. Coincidentally I happened to steal a photograph taken at the Vigeland Park in Oslo. We had visited it only two days earlier. I love your ironical comment – this atrocity in the middle of beautiful Oslo.

As I am working as a judge, steeling something does not occur to me very often. But I have to admit I had great fun in doing so! I thought it might be a good idea to place your photo in my office at the court where I am working. A stolen photograph displaced in a court of justice – this might be rather unique, don´t you think so?– Hans

Kudos! For a fun and unusual event. And what a trade-off it was – not one, but TWO original Renlund-photographs!

Our stolen merchandise is now gracing our apartment interior here in Sydhavn, Copenhagen. We feel the surrealistic twist brings a comfortable counterbalance to the living room. True harmony. Thank you for that, Lukas. – Anna & Simon

Thank you for the photograph. It took some time to find a worthy spot for it here in my Vesterbro apartment. I decided to hang it in my living room, centered between to large windows overlooking my street.
Now my stolen merchandise has also become a popular conversation topic when I have guests visiting. I’m so happy with it! – Pernille

You can find the entire collection of robber responses so far in this Facebook album.

The concept of “free photographs” has been popping up quite a lot as of late. However, most of the ones we’ve seen in the past have involved leaving photos out in random public areas for passers-by to take, rather than holding a live photo exhibition to give them away.

(via Lukas Renlund via ISO 1200)

P.S. Imagine what this concept would be like if it were a world-famous photographer giving away free prints. We’re guessing it’d look something like this.

Image credits: Photographs by Lars Helsinghof

  • Jack Matthews

    It’s not stealing if you have permission?

  • richard the IIIrd

    A hotel chain in Melbourne ran a competition recently to steal a Banksy artwork that was hanging in one of their hotels. If you were able to steal it, you got to legally keep it.

  • Miguel Ángel

    Genial. Excelente idea.

  • Olliee

    The judge was not going to get arrested over stealing the frame, it’s not stealing in a way its like giving it way for exposure but it takes it away from the art into a new story about where did you get it from. I wonder how he can afford to put on his next show or I am completly missing the point, it’s more like the hounds keep comming back for more? 

  • amon

    not sure i get the point…

  • rtfe

    -way of the gimmick-

  • nate parker

    Ha! Those hounds at Chaterny were Hilarious!!

  • Ivan

    The point? Self-promotion. Did you know anything about the guy before? No. Do you know something about him now. Yes. Done.

  • livesteel

    Nothing new here, if he had a “legitimate” show at a gallery the owners would steal all his profits. The only difference is he doesn’t feel cheated letting people steal his work off the walls.

  • 30HomeGames

    Hearts were stolen. Time was stolen.
    Great self promotion, the exhibit lives in the blogs and Social Media. The event itself ended within a minute.