Laws give us rights and responsibilities, prescribing bans and placing limits on what is permitted. But sometimes the thirst of legislators to control everything comes to the point of absurdity. The photographer Olivia Locher created a visual series ‘’I Fought Law’’ in which she embodied the reality of the most ridiculous US laws.


Making no sense

When the state remains faithful to traditions and foundations for more than one century, the legislative base accumulates and reaches impressive proportions. With the lapse of time some laws are forgotten, since the situations became out of date due to technical or other development of society. Nevertheless, they still have not lost legal force.

For us, the people whose ios is updated automatically at the slightest change several times a year, it is wild that the state still cares who milks whose cows in Texas, or puts coin in the ear for any reason. Despite the rapid pace of our modern life, legislation is a slow, long-playing process. Any action: including cancellation, requires repeated discussion and agreement of those involved at different levels.

Once such laws could really protect someone, but for today it is sometimes difficult for us to imagine even what prompted the adoption of such an act.

How do you dare to dress up in front of a portrait?

For example, do not try to turn a poor sparrow into a motley parrot with your artistic talent in the state of Michigan, if you do not want to be mistaken for a dangerous criminal. Also, when you will get back from work on a stuffy summer evening and find salvation from an ice cream maker, do not even think to put the cone in the back pocket of your jeans. It’s illegal! It’s also worth mentioning swimming with your two-wheeled best friend in the pool and wearing transparent clothes.


Who is Olivia Locher

Young artist Olivia Locher has already made her mark sarcastic aproach, manifested in her visual works.  For example in a tongue-in-cheek series ‘How To’ she focused on routine tasks we perform daily without paying any attention making it bright thanks to the colors. In her latest #45protestssigns project Locher created anti-Trump banners that she spreaded in Instagram for those participating in the Women’s march.

Her photographs are grounded in dreamlands and consciousness, while Olivia herself is generally dreaming. – Bio from artist’s official website.

Being a BFA student from the School of Visual Arts, Olivia Locher was working on senior thesis with her friend when he told her an anecdote about ban to put an ice-cream cone in your back pocket in Alabama. Photographer was impressed that this occasion led to full series illustrating ridiculous laws across all 50 states. While she spent bunch of time surfing the internet, taking inspiration from a Crazy Laws children’s book published from the 1970s, Locher has realized that this law enforcement concerns not only little hillarious things, but also serious issues like photographing upskirts.

Sarcastic creativity

When visual artist came across some of these obsolete laws, “it kind of just hit me that I should turn these laws into photographic imagery,” she says. Her sarcastic creativity provoked creation of dodgy, absurdist, colorful photographs.

The result is her I Fought the Law series, where humour visualizes the deep absurdity of national legislature.  Praising the color features of pop art traditions,  Olivia Locher regarded the US legal system as a plasticine for parodies. For example, one of works recreates David Bowie’s famous photo, now depicting illegal children’s haircut .


Digging into history

 I feel that not being able to have teacups with wine in them is really strange—I personally do that all the time. And I mean, undressing in front of a man’s portrait, I don’t see how that conversation would’ve ever come up.”

Don’t put a coin in your ear when you are in Hawaii.

Despite the fact that the photographer did not pursue exceptional legal precision, she held a fact-checking that is not visible from her series. To confirm that it is not just rumors and human gossip, Loher studied legal publications, public information in open sources and talked to local residents.

It turned out that the roots of many absurd laws are buried in the history and mentality of individual states. For example, 2 centuries ago, men sold cucumbers, disguised as pickles, but with a heftier price tag. It resulted in Connecticut officials declaring that pickle is only real if it bounces. At the same time, the ban on wearing a coin in the ears in Hawaii is associated with a desire to protect the Kingdom of Hawaii coinage in 1900, when this region became state. However, some ridiculous laws are only urban legends. For example, the requirement to serve apple pie with cheese in Wisconsin is associated with the once-existent law, obliging people to eat cheese and butter with catering.



Locher’s project does not aim at making changes or curing sometimes broken legal system in US. It is rather a caricature of the entire legislative process, when a bunch of people have the right to create rules of conduct. To show the absurdity of the situation, Olivia Locher tries to make his work as ridiculous as the laws themselves.

It is illegal to kiss a woman when you have a mustache

“I myself notice that I most like artists who follow their own vision and do their work for themselves, and not for the viewer”.

Most of the photos are shot in New York studio, but sometimes Olivia Locher goes to the field. For example, a lake near her hometown Johnstown became a background for her riff on Pennsylvania’s dictum against fishing with dynamite.

 Sometimes the subject matter could be kept really simple, but then other times you need more of an environment. Whatever the laws are saying, that’s how I come up with how much information I need to show. Some of them I feel require a little bit more than just a simple studio shot.”

And since no place is exempt, Locher photographed all 50 states that she compiled in full photo book named ‘I Fought the Law’.

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