On February 18, 2014, and at a time when global exchanges are de rigueur, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, in collaboration with The Art & Law Program, presented a conversation on intellectual property, local culture, and international commerce between Vera List Center Fellow Jill Magid and artist and art lawyer Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, facilitated by VLC director Carin Kuoni.
If you missed this talk, the Vera List Center video taped the entire discussion and made it available online, here.
The conversation was anchored by artist Jill Magid’s current project, The Barragán Archives, a long-term multimedia examination of the legacy of Luis Barragán (1902–1988), one of Mexico’s most influential architects and the second winner of the prestigious Pritzker Prize (1980)—often labeled the “Nobel of Architecture.” Along with the vast majority of his architecture, Barragán’s personal archive remains in Mexico while his professional archive, including the rights to his name and work, was acquired in 1995 by Swiss furniture company Vitra, under the auspices of the newly founded Barragan Foundation. In the distance alone between archive and work arises the potential for conflict.
Framed by a discussion of the relationship between art, law, and cultural property, Magid and Muñoz Sarmiento examine the repercussions of the privatization of an artist’s (or architect’s) life work. Does private ownership, often softened by well-funded infrastructures, facilitate public access to an artist’s work or, conversely, does it restrict access? What are the legal “fictions” and cultural stories—such as Magid’s project—facilitated by such proprietary structures, and what significance and impact do they have in regards to the physical objects? Can personal and private interests align with commercial and legal agendas in ways that are productive and beneficial to a general public?