Sunday, November 23, 2014

Futures of Criticism: Clancco at 2010 CAA Conference

A bit of shameless self-promotion. Lane Relyea, Associate Professor of Art Theory & Practice at Northwestern University, asked me to participate on his panel, Futures of Criticism, at the 2010 CAA Conference in Chicago. I am extremely honored to have been asked to participate on this panel concerning art criticism with other distinguished presenters (see below for more info).  Please let me know if you’ll be attending. I look forward to seeing you.

Here’s an abstract on what I’ll be speaking about at the Conference.

Who Needs an Art Critic:  Law and the Space of Writing

Art critics currently employ an incestuous language (anti-capitalist, leftist, politically correct) which has become not only irrelevant to cultural analysis, but also deleterious to the relevance of art and art criticism.

Artists and art critics have always looked outside their disciplines for ”alternative” ideologies and discourses to inform – and mirror – their own productions.  Sadly, these discourses have become stale, predictable and impotent.  In a glaring example of adherence to a tired dialogue, classic leftists and art critics alike profess to abhor law and its structures, yet hypocritically embrace those structures when politically and culturally convenient.      

This paper will cover three topics:  law as its own artistic space; how textualist legal writings and interpretations can breathe life into a dying art criticism; and how the impact of law on cultural production and reception provides a fresh and relevant mode of art criticism.

Futures of Criticism

Thursday, February 11, 9:30 AM–12:00 PM
Grand B, Gold Level, East Tower, Hyatt Regency Chicago

Chair: Lane Relyea, Northwestern University

Criticality, Critique, Critical Practice
Gail Day, University of Leeds

The Critique of the Incitement to Discourse and the Basic Problems of Phenomenology: Two or Three Critical Models in/around Tino Sehgal
David Lewis, Graduate Center, City University of New York

Who Needs an Art Critic: Law and the Space of Writing
Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, Clancco: Art and Law

Historicizing Contemporary Art: The Living, the Dead, and the Undead
Simone Osthoff, Pennsylvania State University

Criticisms, Publics, Communities
Frazer Ward, Smith College


Is Smashing a Gallery Window Art?

Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t legal consequences. From today’s Guardian:

Does breaking a window count as art? Yes, murmured the 50 or so artniks who recently crowded into a former Edinburgh ambulance garage to view a film of sculptor Kevin Harman doing just that. No, insisted Kate Gray, director of the Collective Gallery in Cockburn Street, whose window it was. The courts are on Gray’s side.

For those of you thinking “free speech,” not so fast. Remember that although non-verbal expression may be protected as speech under US law, not all non-verbal expression is granted First Amendment protection. The non-verbal expression with a message (content) may still be regulated by laws so long as the laws are not targeting the content of the speech (or act), but rather serve an important societal goal (in this case keeping individuals from shattering or breaking windows on private property. If anyone has information on UK laws governing non-verbal expression, please let me know at

You can also view a video of Harman shattering the gallery window here.


Poster Boy Pleads Guilty to Criminal Mischief

New York’s famous subway artist, Poster Boy, aka Henry Matyjewicz, yesterday agreed to a plea deal to perform 210 hours of community service. When asked by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Michael Gary if he was the one featured in a YouTube video defacing posters in the Fulton Street G train station in Fort Greene, New York, Poster Boy answered “yes.”


Lucasfilm Loses Appeal Over Stormtrooper Copyright

It seems that the Lucasfilm lawsuit against the Stormtrooper creator, Andrew Ainsworth, is over, for now anyway.

Readers may remember that Lucasfilm first sued Ainsworth in a U.S. court and won a $20 million judgment.  When Lucasfilm tried to enforce its case in Britain they lost and then appealed to the UK court of appeals. Yesterday, the UK court of appeals agreed with the lower UK court and ruled that the Stormtrooper models were not sculptures and thus not  protected under UK copyright law. Instead, the Lord Justices ruled that the models were industrial designs, protectable for only 15 years. Lucasfilm plans on appealing to Britain’s new Supreme Court.

More from The Times Online.


College Censored Art Class; Threatened With Lawsuit

From today’s Dallas Morning News,

Eastfield College in Mesquite [Texas] may land in federal court for refusing to allow a student to make crucifixes in a ceramics class.  Liberty Legal Institute, representing the student, wrote to officials at Eastfield and the Dallas County Community College District, demanding that the college rescind a policy against the crafting of religious works in art classes.  The letter, sent Tuesday, warned of a federal lawsuit unless Eastfield promises in writing by Jan. 23 that students “will be allowed to freely express their faith.”

The community college district said Eastfield’s policy is intended to encourage original work by students – not to infringe on religious freedom. The district said its lawyers “will review the policy and make recommendations to amend the language which will make the policy more clear for faculty and students.”


No Prison Time for Philosopher Who Made Derrida Translations Available


These past few years have brought us great copyright cases and conflicts, but rarely do we get one with a philosophical bent.  As many of you may know, Jacques Derrida was perhaps the best known (or at least the most popular) philospher of the twentieth-century. His works, stemming from the “practice” of deconstruction, analyzed ideological and philosophical structures such as structuralism and Marxism, to questions of love, ethics, and violence. In fact, Derrida spent quite a bit of time researching, thinking and writing about punishment and justice, but also Freud’s writings on The Mystic Writing Pad.

It is ironic, if not to say amusing, that a recent copyright case comes to us from abroad, Argentina to be exact, and deals with the question of “just desserts” in relation to copyright infringement.

Horacio Potel, the Argentine philosophy professor who was facing a possible prison sentence for posting unauthorized translations of unavailable Derrida works for his students to read, was  exonerated by an Argentine court.

According to Boing Boing,

“In our legal system,” Beatriz Busaniche of Vía Libre told Intellectual Property Watch this week, “this case will not be considered as jurisprudence, but the case as a whole helped us spread the word about copyright issues.”

There is no doubt in my mind that if Derrida were alive, he would most certainly examine the structure of copying, and the structure of right.


Man Steals $20 Million in Paintings

Alfonso Frazetta and an accomplice allegedly used a backhoe to steal $20 million in paintings from the Frazetta Art Museum. The museum is not named after the alleged thief; it’s owned by his father. Frazetta is charged with burglary, criminal trespassing and theft.


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