freedom of expression

"Museums are for the Dead, I Want Life"

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Image courtesy of The Superslice.  

According to a source “close to the decision-making process,” there is a good chance that the Los Angeles Planning and Land Use Management Committee will reverse the ban on the creation of murals on private property when they vote next week.  Check out a great video short on The Superslice about efforts to save public art in the city. Follow the non-profit, Save LA Murals, on Facebook .

A New York Supreme Court justice dismissed a suit against photographer, Arne Svenson, for pictures he took of his neighbors without their permission.  The couple bringing the suit sued Svenson for violating their privacy when pictures of their children appeared in his images.  The presiding justice concluded that, while it was cringe worthy to think a persons private life and images of their children could end up in the public forum without their permission, there is no redress under New York law since art is protected under the First Amendment.

A biography written two years ago has reopened the presumed suicide by Van Gogh for examination.  The writers propose the theory that a 16 year old school boy, with whom Van Gogh was acquainted, shot the artists.  The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has weighed in, remaining unconvinced that his death was anything other than a suicide.  The forensic evidence seems to support the belief that Van Gogh did in fact commit suicide but who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?

Pooled art investment funds, and other non-art related funds, will face heightened scrutiny in the UK.  I may be out of my element here but, “the most valued commodity I know of is information, wouldn’t you agree?”

The idea of buying art on Amazon appeals to me on a democratic level.  However, it appears the site experiences some of the same transparency issues galleries are confronted, with as well as problems unique to internet shopping.

News Heavy…

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Judge Oetken of the S.D.N.Y. issued his Biro v. Condé Nast opinion. J. Oetken granted The New Yorker and Grann’s motion to for an order finding Biro to be a public figure, as well as their motion for judgment on the pleadings, and granted the remaining defendants’ motions for dismissal for failure to state a claim. Notably, the claim against Gawker Media was dismissed as time barred, the statute of limitations is one-year in New York.  J. Oetken reiterated that, under the single publication rule, a story’s continued presence online does not affect how time accrues.  Additionally, J. Oetken determined Biro met all four prongs of the Lerman test, constituting as a limited purpose public figure.  Thus, in order to survive dismissal, Biro’s complaint had to sufficiently plead actual malice (“a term of art denoting deliberate or reckless falsification [J. Oetken, 30]).  The opinion heavily referenced the affects of the “Twiqbal” standard on defamation actions, as well policy concerns for First Amendment rights.  In the end, Biro could not surmount the heavy “actual malice” standard.  Check out additional coverage here and here.

Christie’s has confirmed they will assist in appraising the Detroit Institute of Art’s collection.  Although the museum will cooperate, they have reiterated their belief in the Attorney General’s statement that the collection is a charitable trust which cannot be sold as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.  So, then why is Christie’s being paid $200,000 for their appraisal services?  In any case, even though the city is an economic sinkhole, its art scene is flourishing according to the New York Times.

This week has seen a few different copyright lawsuits:

Music publishers sued Fullscreen, one of the largest suppliers of videos to YouTube, after a breakdown in licensing negotiations.

A federal judge in Manhattan refused a motion by Arrow Productions to block the release of the movie “Lovelace,” alleging that the movie contains unlicensed footage.

Lastly, a Court of Appeals judge for the 9th Circuit ruled that Green Day did not infringe on the rights of a street artist when they incorporated his art work into their video backdrop.

A Manhattan doctor bought a deserted island off the Keweenaw Peninsula, MI then put a conservation easement onto the property and started an artist’s colony.

Also, BUY LOCAL. Local art that is, apparently community supported art organizations are springing up everywheeeeeeere.

Dueling Dinosaurs and Illicit Artifacts

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The fossils of dueling dinosaurs were found by commercial prospectors, who calls himself the “Dino Cowboy,” on on a private ranch in Montana.  Since the U.S. only regulates fossils found on public lands, and the Dino Cowboy has not found a ready institutional buyer, the dinosaur fossils are going up for auction at Bonhoms in New York.  The New York Times doesn’t offer a full shot but there is a great photo of the cowboy gazing hungrily into the distance.

Italian police seized more than 500 well-preserved, illegally excavated artifacts in Southern Italy.  The tombaroli (essentially, Italian for “tomb raiders”) are a constant annoyance and concern to the authorities in a country where undiscovered Etruscan tombs are ripe for raiding. Fortunately, or more likely in reaction to the problem, Italy is at the forefront of cultural heritage police work with a dedicated Carabinieri Division for the Protection of Cultural Heritage. Bravi ragazzi.

Syrian artist, Youssef Abdelke was arrested by Assad forces at a checkpoint a few weeks ago.  The campaign of violence against Syrian artists is gruesome and startling, yet the reasons for it are transparent.  Sign the Facebook petition in support of Abdelke’s release.

The NYPD attempted to censor the Voice Tunnel, an art installation about free speech.  The piece allows the public to say anything they wish into an intercom, which is then translated into waves of light and sound.  The City sought to require a 6 second delay between speech and projection.  Read Rafael Lozana-Hemmer’s interview with Art F City for more.  I was planning on keeping it PG when I pay my visit but perhaps I’ll re-think…

Annnnnd in the realm of the interesting but non-art law related developments, Marina Abromovic participated in a Reddit AMA.

Warning to UK Museums over Qatar’s Human Rights Record

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The Art Newspaper explains how the human rights appeal of an imprisoned Qatari poet has raised serious questions about freedom of expression, affecting several UK museums’ related exhibition programming.