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March 4, 2010
Ephemeral Art, Writ Big-Name
I'd been wanting to write about Apple suing HTC, about which there is a nice write-up at Gizmodo. My interest in this is somewhat personal as I'm about to become a 'droid owner. Also, Greg Aharonian managed to get himself quoted in the New York Times claiming that at least some of Apple's patents will be found to be invalid. So I think just about all has been said right now that needs to be said on that topic.
Instead, I want to direct your attention north of the border (and hope that at least someone in Ontario reads this and will respond). The Globe and Mail has a nice write-up on the new Tino Sehgal exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The exhibit (if it can properly be called that) is titled "Kiss" and consists of seven male-female couples who, over the course of two hours, recreate famous kisses from well-known pieces of Western art.
What makes this Copyfight-interesting is the language and restrictions around it. First, part of the agreements around the exhibition include no photography or other recording. Either you're there to see it, or you're not. Fine, and much like many other performance pieces.
But the way The Globe And Mail describes the transfer of the intellectual property around this fascinates me. The AGO "bought" (whatever that means, probably paid money for) "an edition of" (which I take to mean secured the rights to perform/display) Kiss. Apparently other big-name museums have "bought" this piece, which again strikes me as very odd language. If you're buying a copy, then you get some rights in that copy by virtue of the purchase, no? And if your rights terminate after some time (or some number of performances) then aren't you renting rather than buying?
And if it's an edition of, does that mean it can run concurrently with other editions? (Edition is also a weird word - makes it sound like a reprinting of a book.) Or does it just mean that you get some rights to change it, such as selecting which actors will be in it? Or maybe you get more substantive rights, such as the right to change what kisses are enacted, or how long the enactments take place?
The whole thing strikes me as odd - if they'd used the language typically seen around other ephemeral art, such as musical performances or theatrical offerings, I might find it less weird. But, really, what does it mean to treat something like this as a piece of art that is on exhibition at a museum?
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