Saturday, March 2, 2024

UCLA Curators Remove Artist’s Work Without Consent

According to Sunday’s Los Angeles Times, artist Maya Lujan:

participated in UCLA’s 2008 Wight Biennial exhibition, titled “Group Effort: Collaboration as Process and Form,” which opened Sept. 25 and closed Oct. 9 at the New Wight Gallery at UCLA’s Broad Art Center. Lujan’s large scale artwork “White Magic and Xanadu,” appeared in the show — but not the way the artist had in mind.

[A] symbol on the wall was installed Sept. 23 along with the sculptural pieces, but was removed before the show opened — according to the artist, without her permission. “It’s just sort of unheard of for them to handle it without the artist’s permission,” she said.

Although the student curators did not provide Culture Monster with their reasons for taking down the symbol, which Lujan calls a “mandala,” Russell Ferguson, chairman of the UCLA art department, confirmed that the decision probably had something to do with the fact that the form resembles a swastika.

If the facts as stated above are correct, and aside from the ethical and professional issues raised, the main issue at hand is what legal recourse(s) Ms. Lujan will have against UCLA, the Museum, and the curators, and whether or not she will opt to enforce her rights. We’re doing some research now, but without having waived her Visual Artists Rights Act (VARA), Ms. Lujan may have that recourse as a viable option.


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