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Art Encounters Law

From renting studio space in which to live and work to expectations concerning the sale and reproduction of artwork, making decisions with legal implications has been increasingly entrenched in being an artist.

Cowboys Milking
Formerly Attributed to Cady Noland

A recent lawsuit involving the artist Cady Noland illustrates the way in which a living artist’s disclaimer of a work, even when everyone knows it’s “real,” can still transform it into a fake. Cady Noland is the bestselling living female artist at auction.

Just More than Zero

Katsushige Nakahashi’s Zero Project (2000 – ) involves a curator leading a group of volunteers in the construction of a full-scale World War II Japanese Zero fighter plane. The construction materials are 25,000 photographs taken from a scale model of the plane. These are held together by a lot of cellophane. Upon completion of the three-dimensional plane, volunteers carry the plane to a lawn or someplace and burn it.

On the Maintenance of Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft

Maria Eichhorn Aktiengesellschaft began its life in December 2002, as both a corporation and a work of art. Upon an invitation from Okwui Enwezor to participate in Documenta 11, Maria Eichhorn founded an Aktiengesellschaft, or public limited company.

Vagina Dialogues
Ann Hirsch’s Free Speech Battles on the Web

We either debase our bodies with pornography and it’s disgusting or it’s like, ‘Oh, your vagina is a temple!’” Thus remarks Ann Hirsch, an artist who tackles the private and embarrassing activities we engage in on the internet in her video and performance work in order to propose more relaxed and open attitudes and dialogues about bodies and sexuality.

On the Semiotic Disobedience of Hank Willis Thomas

In July of 2007, the exterior wall of the Birmingham Art Museum displayed a haunting image. In its center was a photograph, depicting a classic MasterCard advertisement, but with a few key differences. Rather than the traditional picture of a beaming couple embarking on an adventure, (“There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.”), the photograph displayed a radically different scene.

Legal Entanglement
The Body in Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s “Untitled”, 1989

n 1989 Felix Gonzalez-Torres mounted “Untitled”, 1989, in New York City’s Sheridan Square. The site and date manifestation of the work commemorated the twentieth anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion at the place of its occurrence. It issues a formal citation of the artist’s date pieces, rectangular photostats dominated by a dense, funerary black void, and accompanied by a compact series of white captions at the bottom of the image.

Art and Law Enforcement in a Ring Box: TALWST’s Miniature Aesthetic Revolution

In writing about art and law now, I felt compelled to address a part of law that often gets left out of such lofty conversations: law enforcement, or more specifically, policing. Force is both fundamental to and obscured in the workings of the law; Jacques Derrida famously made this argument in The Force of Law already in 1990.

Justice Must be Seen to be Done

A central image in the consideration of law is the totemic figure of justice—Justitia—the blindfolded Roman goddess of justice. Often appearing in statue form in many courthouses and carrying a sword and scales, she heralds the idea of law as impartial and unseeing, of law as a system that, theoretically at least, is open to all—democracy as a form of blindness.

The Law in Our Hands

They are images that, once seen, can never be unseen. Three large black-and-white photographs from 1995 show Ai Weiwei dropping a Han dynasty vase allegedly costing thousands of U.S. dollars. Known collectively as Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, the photographs have been cited as evidence of a willful iconoclasm, despite their having been made under far more prosaic circumstances (according to one account, Ai was simply attempting to test the speed of his new camera.)


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2016

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