Best Art Heist - 2012
When University of North Texas MFA student Irby Pace first saw her in that Mac store, he knew he had to have her. From the way her earphones balanced out her pouty expression, to the threadbare nature of her thrift-store T-shirt, her composition was irresistible. The problem was, she didn't belong to him. The photograph was one of eventually thousands that Pace downloaded from sample devices such as iPads and iPods used in the retailer's local stores. He hijacked the images, all snapped by individuals who were playing with the camera features while shopping. Those folks who didn't delete their digital portraits wound up as muses for Pace's MFA show. The collection became an investigation of the fusion between modern technology and photography and toyed dangerously with the concept of ownership. Soon, Pace's little act of expression sparked a fire of debate. And once Wired picked up the story, it became a global conversation.