Monday, September 25, 2023

Buying a Kiss With An Oral Contract

This week’s New York Magazine has an interesting story on New York’s MoMA and their recent acquisitions of performance art. The ephemeral nature of the works highlights the legal issues raised by art works that supposedly are not memorialized via film, video or props. Adding to this complex schema is the contractual nature of MoMA’s contract with Tino Sehgal regarding his performance, Kiss. According to New York Magazine, the contract was not memorialized in writing but rather “sealed…with a spoken contract.”

Purchasing Kiss was especially complex, because the hallmark of Sehgal’s work is that it’s undocumented. (In the piece, couples dance, touch, and make out for two choreographed hours.) There’s no script or manual. The how-to is passed on orally, like a folktale[.]

We’re trying to ascertain the validity of this claim, and if so, the nature of the agreement.


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