Join 3,439 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


So you bought an idea?
November 12, 2010 11:57 AM   Subscribe

Performance art in the marketplace, courtesy of the Financial Times. The MOMA takes a stand.
posted by artof.mulata (18 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
(this post was inspired by a friend's recent statement that 'art has become the religion of capitalism...')
posted by artof.mulata at 11:59 AM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is an absolutely fascinating subject. I love, love, love that this discussion is taking place.

On the one hand, there's of course an inherent absurdity to trying to collect a performance. Hell, that's one of the points of performance as art. On the other hand, I think this is just awesome:

Purchasing Kiss was especially complex, because the hallmark of Sehgal’s work is that it’s undocumented. (In the piece, couples dance, touch, and make out for two choreographed hours.) There’s no script or manual. The how-to is passed on orally, like a folktale—which is how MoMA sealed the deal, with a spoken contract. The artist will explain its workings to a curator; he or she will pass it on, down the road; and MoMA will have the rights to reproduce the performance forever.

The curation has become part of the performance!

Also, I'd really like to have a print of this photo.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:25 PM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


They seem to be completely serious about it, but this strikes me as a delightfully subversive way to take modern ideas of intellectual property ownership to their logically absurd extreme, turn them in on themselves, and destroy them.

I approve, and have many other ideas available for purchase.
posted by Naberius at 12:36 PM on November 12, 2010


The MOMA link reads like an Onion piece.
posted by Shit Parade at 12:39 PM on November 12, 2010


If there are any collectors reading the thread, I'm currently offering the rights to my performance piece, "Shit Parade".
posted by Nahum Tate at 12:42 PM on November 12, 2010


If the Tate Modern were interested yours would be a subjunctively eponysterical comment.
posted by mkb at 12:55 PM on November 12, 2010


On the one hand, I do think that it's interesting the way that these performances are being documented, and I do like the idea of being able to have an archive for academic study, which requires some level of permanence. On the other hand, I don't think that this will subvert the ideas of property ownership or copyright so much as property ownership and copyright will subvert many of the ideas inherent in the process and creation of performance work.

Like, I get that artists should get paid and that this is a good thing, generally. On the other hand, the idea of paying thousands for "the idea" (which explicitly can't be copyrighted, only the fixing of the form can) seems a bit of poisonous egotism regarding the creation of novel ideas, and the thought of elitist collectors finding new things to "own" which simply flatter their status seems antithetical to a lot of the intentions that go into performance art. Broadening performance art to include more interaction with "the market" doesn't seem like an unmitigated good, and I think there's a fair case for being apprehensive.
posted by klangklangston at 12:58 PM on November 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, I'd really like to have a print of this photo.

I know! Such a classic photo. I settled by just buying this and putting it on the wall.
posted by Theta States at 1:03 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, I don't think that this will subvert the ideas of property ownership or copyright so much as property ownership and copyright will subvert many of the ideas inherent in the process and creation of performance work.

Yeah, this. I mean, given of course that there are as many reasons for performance art as there are pieces, one of the hallmarks of the form does generally seem to be that it is transient and existential. I suppose this allows for additional possibilities for performance art pieces (inasmuch as a good deal of performance art exists as a recontextualization and formalization of experiences, and the introduction of the marketplace broadens the potential contexts for pieces), but like klang says, I can think of a lot of ways that this shift can flatten and drain meaning from artwork.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:06 PM on November 12, 2010


Also, I think that people buying orally spoken ideas for thousands of dollars is TOTALLY AWESOME.
Isn't that a bit like Scientology, too? ;)
posted by Theta States at 1:06 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


GOOGLE SOL LEWITT.

[Three links, in case you do not, in fact, Google Sol Lewitt]. The question of what a purchaser of one of Lewitt's Wall Drawings actually buys (or bought in 1968 when he made and sold the first one) is interesting to Intellectual Property lawyers, but not really to anyone else. You get Lewitt's detailed instructions and the right to recreate (draw) the drawing on the walls of your choice, but you don't actually get walls with drawings on them. For museums and galleries (and some collectors) Lewitt had his assistants make the drawings, but sometimes the buyers had their own people do it or even (in at least one notable case) did it themselves.

What this means, precisely, in terms of which exclusive rights you do or do not have under 17 USC Sec. 106 doesn't matter much -- or anyway it hasn't so far and the work has been out there fore a long time. Lewitt and other conceptual artists like him didn't break the copyright law in the 70s (when the modern copyright law appeared) and Abramovic (great an artists though she is) and her ilk aren't likely to break it now.
posted by The Bellman at 1:45 PM on November 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


My performance art piece is:
curated by fuq at #:30 PM on November 12 [$][?]

I'll tell you how to move your hands you create the string of characters and then teach you the choreography of taking a laptop into a gallery, but it's a rather expensive piece of art. I suppose I'm willing to negotiate a bit, but I've got the Whitney open in the other tab. I'm just saying.
posted by fuq at 1:45 PM on November 12, 2010


Just to be clear, can I still kiss in public without being sued for copyright infringement and/or intellectual property theft?

Trying to buy performance art seems very focused on owning a "so-and-so", owning something famous because it is famous. The concept of kissing isn't exactly radical or new, but by calling it a Sehgal and paying for it, it becomes somehow transformative (and worth, i believe, a quarter mil)
posted by Shit Parade at 1:46 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't wait for high-profile exhibitions where the next generation of performance artists offer bootleg conceptual performances, making claims of authenticity to the pieces, but without the permission of the original performance artists.

There'll be someone staring, people dancing and kissing, someone drawing geometric shapes on the wall, someone having their clothing cut off! And they can bill the original performers at the show, just to piss everyone off even more. OK, it'll suck to be the person getting shot in the arm or living in a jail cell for a year, but not everyone has to make it to the afterparty.
posted by Theta States at 2:20 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you all very much for participating in my performance art piece here on Metafilter. Please ungodly sums of money in the back account of the foundation supporting my work as you exit the thread (or just slip me some cash). T-shirts are on sale in the gift shop.
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 2:26 PM on November 12, 2010


It's also interesting to think about this as coming after Sherrie Levine (after Walker Evans, natch) and her take on ownership and reproduction. I think her point was shallow and facile, but it's one that anyone trying to "own" a conceptual piece will have to contend with in defending that theoretically. And if you're not prepared to defend your theoretical acquisition of performance art for actual dollars, you shouldn't be "owning" performance art.

(I can see an alternate possibility for performance art and the market, and that's paying to be in performances that replicate the originals, though then number of society dilettantes who are willing to pay $100,000 to be shot in the arm seems vanishingly small.)
posted by klangklangston at 4:14 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how existing copyright law around theatre pieces doesn't apply. A script - the blueprint for a performance - can be copyrighted and rights can be bought and sold. The actual performance can be copyrighted as well as the performance in a fixed media format.
posted by ao4047 at 10:31 PM on November 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


OneMonkeysUncle, thank you very much for participating in my performance art piece here on Metafilter by claiming that it was your performance art piece. You gave a masterful performance, I must say.

I await your payment of franchising fees.
posted by kyrademon at 4:37 AM on November 13, 2010


« Older Dirty Coal, Clean Future...  |  Skateistan - To Live and Skate... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments