Friday, September 22, 2023

Aesthetic Property Project

“Solving [the mystery of capital] requires an understanding of why Westerners, by representing assets with titles, are able to see and draw out capital from them. One of the greatest challenges to the human mind is to comprehend and to gain access to those things we know exist but cannot see. Not everything that is real and useful is tangible and visible.”

Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital, (2000)

A Question of Property #4 does not encompass any additions to any previously existing site or structure. The premise of this project is to find a three-dimensional structure and claim it as “aesthetic property” of the artist. An exhibition announcement is then created with all the pertinent information regarding the location of this structure, as well as the approximate dates of exhibition and the opening reception date and time. These announcements are then sent out to the general public and an “art opening” is held in front of the three-dimensional structure.


(Location: Cesar Chavez Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 2003)(front view)


(Exhibition Announcement: Front Side)


(Exhibition Announcement: Back Side)


(Location: Cesar Chavez Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 2002)(side view)

More importantly, a certificate of authenticity is also created which will enable a sale of this structure, and simultaneously allowing the buyer to own all aesthetic property rights created by this structure.


(Certificate of Authenticity for structure on Cesar Chavez Blvd, Los Angeles, CA, 2002).

Paradoxically, the aesthetic aspect of this structure can be evident only while the structure itself is raw and uncovered, for at the time the structure becomes enveloped in finished construction materials (bricks, plywood, gypsum board), the armature, and thus the aesthetic effect, terminates.


(Location: Hyperion Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. 2003)

Obvious questions remain: does the obfuscation of the physical structure negate the aesthetic effects/affects of the remaining (spectral) structure, which is there and yet not there, and does this obfuscation negate the aesthetic property right now owned by the buyer/owner and granted by the certificate of authenticity, or does the buyer/owner still maintain a property interest in something that remains unseen?


(Street Address Unknown. Springfield, Virginia. 2005)


Lastly, Assigned Value (title) , is a project which takes A Question of Property one step further. In this project the procedural aspects of A Question of Property are maintained, with one added caveat: that the proceeds/earnings from the sale of the “aesthetic property” rights (via a certificate of authenticity) be shared in equal proportion with the construction crew members. Additionally, if this project is exhibited or noted in any artistic, academic, or legal institution or journal, the construction crew members shall be given appropriate credit for their manual production.

It should be noted that the certificates of authenticity can be sold after the raw three-dimensional structures are no longer visible. It is to function as such so as to make explicit and raise the question of exactly when and where the aesthetic effects/affects actually take place.

To read more on the artistic, theoretical and legal issues regarding these projects, please see my essay, Suburban Interventions, A Question of Property, and Assigned Value (title), published by Law Text Culture in 2005.


(Artists: Alejandro Sanchez, Miguel Espinoza, Roberto Alcala. El Paso, TX, July 2003)

Copyright © 1997- 2006 Sergio Muñoz-Sarmiento. All Rights Reserved.



No comments so far.
  • Leave a Reply
    Your gravatar
    Your Name


Clancco, Clancco: The Source for Art & Law,, and Art & Law are trademarks owned by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento. The views expressed on this site are those of Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento and of the artists and writers who submit to They are not the views of any other organization, legal or otherwise. All content contained on or made available through is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed, nor is anything submitted to treated as confidential.

Website Terms of Use, Privacy, and Applicable Law.

Switch to our mobile site