Who Owns the Artwork? - Seminar

Seminar Who owns the Artwork
Seminar Who Owns the Artwork
Seminar Who Owns the Artwork

Who Owns the Artwork? Seminar

10:15 - 16:45
Opening: 14/05/2010 10:15 by Berndes, Christiane (Curator)

The aim of this seminar was to examine and discuss issues relating to authorship, copyright and the ownership of artworks arising out of the project FREE SOL LEWITT by the Danish artist collective SUPERFLEX. The seminar lead to lively discussions between audience and speakers.

<media 2648 - download>Read here</media> the seminar report, written by Daniel McClean.
Download the video- and audioregistration of the seminar here.  

The SUPERFLEX project belongs to part 2 of Play Van Abbe, from April 10 to September 2010. In Play Van Abbe the Van Abbemuseum seeks to scrutinize its role as a museum and the role of museums generally in collecting and exhibiting art.

Addressing the question in its widest sense of who owns the artwork once it entered into the public domain, the seminar considered two main issues from interdisciplinary perspectives :

• The right of artists to copy other artworks and images and how copyright law (particularly when exercised by owners who are not artists) can negatively impact upon practices of copying shared within the artistic community. This will also involve a discussion of how copyright law might be challenged by artists and by museums and potentially reconfigured;

• Artists’ rights and the restrictions placed upon museums and collectors after ownership of the artwork has been transferred, including copyright, contractual rights and moral rights. This will also involve a discussion of the ethical responsibilities of curators and the problems caused for museums by artists’ estates, particularly in their administration of copyright.


The seminar will consider two main issues from interdisciplinary perspectives. The morning session will focus on copying, copyright and the artistic commonwealth and the afternoon session presents possibilities on artists’ rights,  the museum and artists’ estates.

10:15     Gathering in the Van Abbemuseum café 
(Coffee and tea are provided)

Morning session:
Copying, Copyright and Artistic Commonwealth

10:45 - Welcome by Christiane Berndes

10:55 - Introduction by Daniel McClean

11:10 - Presentation by SUPERFLEX, Bjørnstjerne Christiansen

11:30 - Presentation by Sven Lütticken

11:50 - Presentation by Prof. Bernt Hugenholtz,

12:10 - Presentation by Martha Bushkirk

12:30 - Presentation by Pierre Leguillon

12:40 - Panel discussion of morning session, moderated by Daniel McClean and Christiane Berndes

13:00 - Lunch break (the museum cafe offers a selection of snacks and drinks at own costs

Afternoon session:
Artists’ rights, the Museum and Artists’ estates

14:30 - Introduction by Daniel McClean

14:40 - Presentation by Charles Esche on video

14:55 - Presentation by Achim Borchardt-Hume

15:15 - Presentation by Florian Schneider

15:35 - Talk between Maria Eichhorn and Seth Siegelaub

15:55 - Panel discussion of afternoon session, moderated by Daniel McClean and Christiane Berndes

16:30    End

This seminar has been realized by: Christiane Berndes, Daniel McLean, Kerstin Niemann, SUPERFLEX and Marcia Vissers.

Christiane Berndes
- curator and head of collections, co-curator of In-between Minimalisms.
Christiane Berndes welcomes the guests to the seminar and co-moderates the panels and discussions together with Daniel McLean.

Daniel McClean
- curator and lawyer, editor, The Trials of Art (2007), co-curator of In-between Minimalisms.

Daniel McClean introduces the morning and afternoon sessions of the seminar and co-moderates the panels and discussions together with Christiane Berndes.

- artist collective based in Copenhagen consisting of Bjørnstjerne Christiansen, Rasmus Nielsen and Jakob Fenger. Co-curators of In-between Minimalisms.

Bjørnstjerne Christiansen

Bjørnstjerne Christiansen presents about FREE Sol LeWitt in the Van Abbemuseum and SUPERFLEX.

Sven Lütticken
- art historian, VU University, Amsterdam, contributor to Appropriation (2003)
Common Right - Some notes on art and copyright from the 1960s to the present, focusing on the conflict between increasing attempts by artists to assert and expand their intellectual rights on the one hand, and the increasing dependency of artistic production of copyrighted material on the other. This conflict exemplifies the contradictions and inequalities generated by the current regime of intellectual property law, and may point beyond its limitations.

Prof. Bernt Hugenholtz
- professor of Intellectual Property Law and Director of the Institute for Information Law of the University of Amsterdam

Copyright, work of art, copyright limitations, artistic freedom, Creative Commons - Copyright traditionally protects works of art. But copyright’s relationship with art has always been uneasy. While generously protecting original artistic expression, copyright law is much less generous in recognizing artistic freedoms. Another way of promoting legal artistic reuse is the use of Creative Commons licenses, which would allow such reuses depending on the type of CC license used by the author or right holder.

Martha Buskirk
- art historian, professor, Montserrat College of Art, Beverly, MA, author, The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art (2003)

Contractually Yours - Artists employ contracts and certificates for a host of reasons, ranging from practical to philosophical. Sometimes the declaration is the work, presented to the audience as a challenge or a critique of artistic authorship. In other cases, written documents remain behind the scenes, providing instructions about the disposition of the work or, at a more practical and often market-driven level, constituting an externalized version of the artist’s signature.

Pierre Leguillon
- artist

His exhibitions and slideshows explore the images modes of circulation and inscription, and often endanger the notion of the originality and paternity of the art work. The exhibition "Pierre Leguillon features Diane Arbus: a printed  retrospective, 1960–1971” presents approximately one hundred photographs by Diane Arbus commissioned by magazines. The exhibition replaces the photographs in the context of their initial appearance, where the page layout is shown as a ‘prefabricated’ exhibition structure. The choice of the Diane Arbus' oeuvre allows to speak of “genre” or “genres” of photography via images within the question of “genre” is central. This question of the autonomy of the work and of the artist is staged in the production of the exhibition, mainly on eBay, and with specific crates what become part of the all display. The show belongs as an artwork to the Kadist Art Foundation in Paris. 

Charles Esche
- director of the Van Abbemuseum

In a video statement Charles Esche will explain and discuss his point of view of what owning artwork means and what it could become.

Achim Borchardt-Hume
- chief curator, Whitechapel Gallery, London

Copy Right or Copy Duty - What happens when safeguarding the intellectual rights of artists infringes on the presentation of their work? This is a recurring issue for Curators, especially where historic work is concerned and rights are guarded by Estates. Dependence on rights clearance bears on publications and the freedom of new curatorial interpretation as much as on the re-creation of lost works and others that due to deterioration may no longer give an accurate representation of the artist’s original intentions.

Florian Schneider
- advising researcher design / Imaginary Property, Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht.
Imaginary Property - Contemporary image production is condemned to pose the question of property at the intersection of two axes: property that becomes increasingly a matter of imagination and images that are subject to ongoing propertization. In an economy based on imaginary property the real abstraction of the exchange has turned into its opposite, the real-time exchange of data that are abstracted from the image which does not portray or equal anything anymore.

Maria Eichhorn
- artist, Berlin and author of The Artist’s Contract (2008) 

Seth Siegelaub
- former curator, art dealer and co-drafter of The Artist’s Contract (1971)

The Artist's Contract today? - A discussion between Seth Siegelaub and Maria Eichhorn moderated by Daniel McClean. On the one hand this conversation adresses the content and legacy of the Artist's Contract and why more artists did not use it and on the other hand the relevance of the Artist’s Contract today.

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