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Friday, July 27, 2007

Tool of Master... MAJORLY UPDATED!!!!

oh no... more B. -

Edward Winkleman made a post which starts off stating that he has learned, "via Christoph Buchel's lawyer, Donn Zaretsky, that Sergio Munoz Sarmiento has weighed in on the Büchel vs. Mass MoCA court battle".

What is most funny about this post is that when I saw it this (Thursday) afternoon around 3pm, there was nothing new on Zaretsky's blog about Buchel. A mysterious and concerned someone immediately left Winkleman a comment asking "via donn zaretsky means zaretsky contacted you about this? i didn't see anything new on the blog"... and then, VOILA!, less than half an hour later Zaretsky updates his blog with the information. Ed never replied.

So, why is Donn Zaretsky apparently contacting sympathetic cut-and-pasters? I mean, if the Buchel position is so strong? Why try so hard to court and shape public opinion? It seems pretty obvious, with that quick posting, that he is paying close attention to the comments.

Too funny.

UPDATE 7/28/07:

If you are interested in all this Buchel stuff, make sure to click the Buchel label, which will give you ALL the posts, in reverse chronological order. Here is the post, with pictures, on my visit to the Made at Mass Moca show.

AFC has a short list of links to some of the more recent Buchel stuff, the most generally informative of which is probably this ArtInfo feature by William Hanley, which also talks about the different approaches the opposing lawyers are taking in the public relations battle. The problem with this article is that it makes no mention of Buchel's history of pranks and chain-yanking... which seems so relevant, right?

The CLANCCO site is pretty good also, lots of the legal stuff, and he's arguing for the artist... but I'm not buying/getting the premise of his argument, that they are arguing over an artwork. It's misleading, and the reaction of anyone sympathetic to artists (including myself) would be to get worked up that the museum is out of line.

But is Buchel calling this an artwork? Is the museum calling this an artwork? My understanding is that neither party is claiming this to be an artwork. Buchel's statements have claimed that the museum purchased many of the wrong items, not the items he requested or would have chosen... Buchel has also stated that the abandoned installation is less than half completed.

If it isn't the stuff he would have chosen, gathered in different piles than he would have liked, less than half finished, and the museum isn't claiming it to be a work by Buchel... how does the VARA stuff apply?

How would it be any different from - or any "worse" than - the Triple Candie show of Cady Noland, "Cady Noland Approximately"? Read these two reviews to know what the Triple Candie show was about: Joe Fyfe liked it, Jerry Saltz didn't like it. Actually, Jerry didn't like it so much he was still talking about it, at this lecture, six months later.

Could the museum throw all of that stuff in a field for a year, bring it back next summer, and have a mock Christoph Buchel exhibition? Could someone buy, or probably offer to haul away for free, all of the abandoned Buchel junk from Mass Moca, bring it down to Harlem and have a "Christoph Buchel Approximately" show at Triple Candie?

How does VARA apply to stuff like Henry Darger, who - in a hospital and knowing he would never be able to return to his apartment - instructed his landlord to destroy any drawings or journals he might find? How come a museum can have a Darger exhibit?

5 comments:

martin said...

WEIRD.

i finished updating this post late last night... it was about 2am (7/28). there were a bunch of other related and interesting things i wanted to mention, but was too tired.

i ALMOST added a quote from someone calling himself Amory Blaine... he is all over the old Triple Candie threads on E. Winkleman, on T. Moody, on J. Garnett, fighting with B. Sholis.

i was going to add something wondering what Amory Blaine would think about the Buchel thing. now this morning i see that at about 3:40am last night, less than two hours after my wondering, Amory Blaine has left a comment on Winkleman's latest Buchel post!?!

what the hell? that is too weird.

Anonymous said...

Recent emails and comments on art blogs seem to indicate a general misunderstanding regarding the MASS MoCA v. Büchel lawsuit. A short clarification is in order.

The main misdiagnosis that must be addressed is the continued misunderstanding which looks at this debate in terms of who was at fault or the claim that the museum "owns what it buys." These flawed arguments miss the point not by inches, but by miles. Artists, art critics, and art bloggers must understand that the social and professional discourses which dictate and mitigate artistic production and artworld interactions do not necessarily apply within the larger judicial and legal frameworks. In this case omnipresent legal protections for an artist--which are automatically available and triggered--trump affective and social interrelations.

In order to address the blind argument relying on “fault,” the first fact that must be understood is that there was no written agreement between the museum and Büchel, which clearly indicates the availability of a legal structure in which this fiasco could have been avoided. Simply put, what MASS MoCA and Mr. Thompson should have done to protect their monetary investment is what any first year law student learns during the first week of law school. That is, draft an agreement. This is especially true when one of the parties (in this case the museum) is in a higher position of power and in a position to know better. The fact that they didn’t do so, and knew, or should have known, will most likely favor Büchel. (Incidentally, other options available to MASS MoCA are those also known to any first year law student under contract law, such as the doctrines of implied in-fact or implied in-law contract, unjust enrichment, and unconscionability.)

Secondly, Martin of the Anaba blog and JL of Modern Kicks blog follow Skadden Arps’ wounded lead and argue that the objects that MASS MoCA bought for Büchel are simply the materials for making art, and thus their property. However, the issue isn’t whether or not the parties are calling these "objects" or "materials" art, but rather what legal protections are already and immediately available to an artist under U.S. law when s/he materializes her/his idea. A simply analogy to statutory rape laws is in order, where the intent of either party is irrelevant. It is clear that when an adult has sex with a minor, even if consensual, the law has defined this act as unlawful and thus punishable under criminal law. Similarly, Copyright and VARA laws apply to creative and materialized actions whether or not the parties intended as such, and so long as this protections were not waived.

What these two blogs do not address is the fact that the objects were bought and installed in the museum based on the drawings, plans, and physical model executed by Büchel. What is of major import here is that MASS MoCA would not have bought, much less installed and materialized the art objects had it not been for their commissioning of Büchel as an artist and Büchel ’s plans and model.

In fact, the minute the objects were individually described, listed, and drawn on a piece of paper and physically executed as a model by Büchel, they were at this point transformed from mere objects to art objects. The fact that the museum executed his commands to obtain and purchase the objects based on his drawings and model solidify the fact that the objects at this point were no longer materials but evidently art objects. To argue otherwise would be to deny Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Richard Prince, Louis Bourgeois, and artists ad infinitum any and all artistic authorship over their conceptual and creative creations (otherwise known in law as personal assets).

The facts indicate that the museum did not purchase the plans, model, installation, or half-finished installation, which if true would grant them the right to publicly display the art objects as artistic installation. Under U.S. Copyright Law and the VARA of 1990, the fact that Büchel materialized his ideas into "fine art" automatically grants Büchel a bundle of rights, among which are the right to protect his reputation, the right to protect his work from publicly display, and the right to make “derivative” works based on his drawings and physical models.

To continue to argue that Büchel was not physically present when the art objects were obtained and installed is to continue the romanticized and worn our argument of authenticity, aura, and the hand-made art object—a theory eviscerated by Duchamp and which any first-year art student from any two-year institution quickly learns. As Emma Bloomfield rightly points out, “I have never heard of a ready-made be called ‘a material.’”

Lastly, it would be erroneous, if not ignorant, to think that lawsuits are not fought on two battlefronts: a court of law and the media. Both parties know and understand quite well the power of digital ink. Let’s not pretend that it is only Büchel’s attorney who takes advantage of this space.
-- Sergio Munoz Sarmiento

martin said...

Sergio –

I was thinking that the installation, and the experience of it, was to be the artwork… but you are saying that the individual objects which were to comprise the installation are each artworks, independent of each other, and that their individual artistic autonomy is not conditional upon realization of the proposed installation.

Andre Breton defined the ready-made as “manufactured objects promoted to the dignity of objects of art through the choice of the artist”, and Marcel Duchamp never clearly defined the term.

I’m curious about how your claim applies to objects such as the house, one of the objects that Buchel has clearly expressed his rejection of… including in his statement released to the Boston Globe - “firstly, this is not the house that Christoph selected”. Two paragraphs later Buchel says “the museum ended up saving a few hundred dollars on purchasing a cheaper option of mobile home that was not approved by the artist”.

Your rape analogy is not clear to me... if, as you state in the rape comparison, “the intent of either party is irrelevant”, than couldn’t it be argued that whatever intent those objects may have initially signified became irrelevant once Buchel abandoned the project? Wouldn’t they revert back to non-art? Again, I’m not clear on what your point was there.

“To continue to argue that Büchel was not physically present when the art objects were obtained and installed is to continue the romanticized and worn our argument of authenticity, aura, and the hand-made art object—a theory eviscerated by Duchamp and which any first-year art student from any two-year institution quickly learns. As Emma Bloomfield rightly points out, “I have never heard of a ready-made be called ‘a material.’”

Ugh, Clannco, maybe I gave you to much credit when I asked those questions on your blog.

To continue arguing? Who is arguing that, or who are you saying is arguing what? I’m not getting what you’re trying to say. My belief is that the art is whatever Buchel says it is, and if he isn’t saying the unfinished installation is art, and isn’t claiming the individual objects to be art, than none of it is art, and the museum can do whatever it wants with it. I’m so into ideas of replication, reproduction, and approximation in absentia that I’d be thrilled if the museum would take the tarps off the disavowed house, clear everything else completely out of the gallery, and open the exhibition as “Christoph Buchel Approximately”.

Who the fuck is Emma Bloomfield? You lost me.

“The fact that the museum executed his commands to obtain and purchase the objects based on his drawings and model solidify the fact that the objects at this point were no longer materials but evidently art objects.”

I read Buchel’s statement as evidence that the museum in fact failed to execute his commands to obtain the desired materials.

“follow Skadden Arps’ wounded lead…”

Wrong. My first post on this was May 16, after visiting the museum and after reading the Geoff Edgers article, but before the museum had announced it’s decision to cancel the Buchel show and open Made at Mass Moca. I did eventually notice the Skadden ISP showing up and checking out those Buchel posts, but had no idea who they might be working for or if they were even involved, including when I posted a June 18 shout-out to them. I am not aware of any efforts by Skadden to make contact with or influence any media.

“is what any first year law student learns during the first week of law school”

“also known to any first year law student under contract law”

“which any first-year art student from any two-year institution quickly learns”

Wow, you must be so amazingly annoying to talk to in person. Assuming the voice of authority is NOT working for you.

JL said...

I've touched on some of the substance of Sergio Munoz-Sarmiento's arguments over at my website, and will continue to do so. Since he left the same comment there (and posted it at the CLANCCO page without linking to either your post or mine so his readers could judge the accuracy of his characterizations) as here, however, I feel I have to point out that it also is not true to say of me that I have been following the lead of MASS MoCA's attorneys, nor have I engaged in any sort of pretense regarding the activities of any of the counsel involved in the case. I'll leave my further response to him back at MK.

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