Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Erasure, Indifference, Willful Ignorance: Ken Burns and PBS

According to his bio,

Ken Burns is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and a premiere historian of U.S. American history. According to historian Stephen Ambrose,“More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.”

Burns’ new documentary film, The War, to be shown on PBS in September of 2007, and recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival, documents the Second World War from a U.S. American perspective through the eyes, memories, and recollections of a few “American” WWII veterans and civilians.

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Roberta Smith: “MASS MoCA A Depressing Spectacle”

As is well known by now Roberta Smith, art critic for the New York Times, weighed in on the MASS MoCA v. Christoph Buchel lawsuit in last week’s New York Times “Arts and Leisure” Section. A quick update: Smith believes that MASS MoCA and Joe Thompson stepped way out of line when they disregarded Buchel’s request that his work not be installed and shown without his permission. In effect, Smith summarized Thompson’s grandstanding as such: “When a museum behaves badly, it’s never pretty. But few examples top the depressing spectacle at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art.” Our guess–Thompson is looking for a new job!


McMullen Museum of Art Claims Fair Use of Pollock Images

Donn Zaretsky and Steven Levitt reported yesterday that The Pollock Krasner Foundation in New York, whose mission is to safeguard the legacy of Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner, refused six months ago to allow the McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College to reproduce authentic Pollocks alongside the newly discovered works.

But the exhibition’s catalog — released only last Saturday afternoon — reproduced a handful of authentic Pollocks against the foundation’s wishes. “We were shocked to find that the museum had published copyrighted images in their catalog,” Ronald Spencer, attorney for the foundation, said Thursday.

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“I think it’s still art and still belongs to Buchel” —MASS MoCA Curator

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Sagging Jeans and Prison Time

Today’s New York Times Fashion & Style section contains an interesting story concerning baggy and sagging jeans and how they can land the person wearing them, i.e. the trendsetter, in jail.

Citing indecency laws, the state of Louisiana has passed ordinances where “the style” carries a fine of as much as $500 or up to a six-month sentence. The NY Times adds that in the West Ward of Trenton, Councilwoman Annette Lartigue is drafting an ordinance to fine or enforce community service in response to what she sees as the problem of exposing private parts in public.

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UPDATE: Judge Denies MASS MoCA’s Request To Keep Artists From Making Art

On Friday, August 17, 2007, a Massachusetts Magistrate Judge denied MASS MoCA’s request to keep litigation documents confidential and from public view. Aside from very limited set of documents, the Magistrate Judge ruled that nothing is to be kept confidential. Büchel submitted his opposition to MASS MoCA’s request for an emergency motion for protective order on Thursday, arguing that MASS MoCA’s request would violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by not allowing either party or the public to disclose and discuss tesimony given or documents produced during litigation.

Büchel argued that in order for a Court to grant the Museum their request to keep records confidential, under the current legal standard the Museum would have to show a compelling reason as to why their request should be granted. In other words, the good cause standard would have been met if the Museum had established that disclosure of documents would cause a clear, specific, and serious injury to the Museum. Instead, and with the exception of a limited set of documents, the Magistrate Judge found that the Museum’s arguments were based on conclusory statements and not on a particular factual demonstration of potential harm.

In effect, Büchel’s attorneys argued that MASS MoCA “sued an artist claiming a right to charge the public to view a display of his unfinished work thus [now] claims that it is aggrieved by the artist having the temerity to make art out of the museum’s use of the legal process to take control of his creation.”


MASS MoCA: Training Ground for Confidentiality

On Tuesday, August 14, 2007, MASS MoCA’s counsel, Skadden Arps, filed an emergency motion for protective order with the United States Distric Court for the District of Massachusetts seeking to prevent Christoph Büchel from disclosing and making publicly available documents used during litigation, claiming that Büchel is “abusing the discovery process” by using these documents to make and sell art. In an era of growing demand for corporate transparency and accountability, it boggles the mind that an art institution–traditionally against censorship and creative restrictions–would try to enforce the silencing of artistic voices through force of law.

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