Friday, September 28, 2007
After a court ruling in their favour (see below, Christoph Buchel vs. Mass MoCA) the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art has elected not to present the unfinished work "Training Ground for Democracy." The museum will remain closed until November 17th, when the previously announced Jenny Holzer exhibition "Pro-jections" will open. A news release from the museums director states: "We are deeply appreciative of the court's thoughtful scrutiny of this matter. After giving careful deliberation to the interests of many constituents, including the artist's own views, and factoring in the limited time window available given our normal exhibition cycle — together with other considerations both logistical and philosophical — we have decided to begin removing the materials immediately without placing them on public display. We are eager to return to our core mission to serve as an experimental platform for art-making."
I wonder if this was not the plan all along - to prove that they were legally entitled to exhibit the incomplete work, but then take the high-road, and not. Buchel's attorney Donn Zaretsky takes a more bleak view of the proceedings, believing the ruling to have set a precedent which will have grave consequences for artists in the future: "The fact is that, in pursuing its victory over Buchel, Mass MoCA has done serious damage to the cause of artists' rights generally.....their claim that their lawsuit against Buchel will not have any negative consequences on legal protection for visual artists and their artworks is ridiculous to say the least. In summation, Mass MoCA has in effect not narrowed the legal decision to apply solely to Buchel, but rather guaranteed that all artists are now subject to have their artistic ideas exhibited and shown to the public in any state of completion and at any time by setting the legal and binding precedent that Visual Artists Rights Act does not address the display of unfinished work or the display of materials assembled for use in a work of art."