Controversies Books

Mirza’s cultural politics book pulped after row over Tate cover image

London mayor’s adviser says publishers will reprint without photograph of young child

A new book by Munira Mirza, the culture adviser to the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has been withdrawn because of a legal problem over a Tate image on its cover. The Politics of Culture: the Case for Universalism examines how policymakers address social exclusion. The £50 hardback, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan on 13 December, is now being reprinted.

The original book jacket featured Dea Birkett, the director of the independent charity Kids in Museums, with her young daughter. Under a 1978 UK law, parental permission normally needs to be obtained to use photographs of children under 16 for publicity purposes.

The image on Mirza’s book cover was taken in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2007 at the press view of Doris Salcedo’s installation Shibboleth (also known as “the crack”). Birkett is identifiable, although her daughter is bending down and her hair covers nearly all of her face.

Birkett told us that, although the photograph was taken for press publicity, “I never gave permission for it to go in the Tate library, to be sold on or to go on Munira Mirza’s book cover.” She says the publishers are “pulping the book”.

Mirza says the image was purchased from the Tate “in good faith, assuming the necessary permission of the people involved had been obtained”. She says: “Following a complaint, my publishers have kindly agreed to reprint the books with a new cover and are currently in discussion with Tate Images to resolve the matter.”

A spokeswoman for the Tate has confirmed that the photograph was taken at a media view “when consent was sought for press usage”. She says: “We are in contact with the publishers and the image has been withdrawn.”

A spokeswoman for Palgrave Macmillan told us that the publisher is due to “reissue The Politics of Culture with a new cover on 13 February”.

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Comments

7 Feb 12
21:1 CET

PETER KERRIGAN, LIVERPOOL

What Carl said. And also - are they pulping the book or printing a new jacket for a reprint. The difference would be that the Art Newspaper would have been suckered by self-publicists.

4 Feb 12
17:19 CET

CARL GARDNER, LONDON

What's the "1978 law" mentioned in this article?

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