Assembly (Before and After the Split Second Recorded)

February 28 to April 12, 2015
Opening reception: February 28, 6-9 pm 

The Gallery at REDCAT presents Assembly (Before and After the Split Second Recorded), a new exhibition by the Brussels-based initiative Agency, February 28 to April 12, 2015.

Founded by artist Kobe Matthys in 1992, Agency is compiling a growing list of ‘things’ that resist easy categorization between culture and nature, between man-made creations and facts, between subjects and objects, humans and non-humans, individuals and collectives. These things are derived from judicial proceedings, lawsuits, cases, or controversies regarding intellectual property (copyrights, patents, trade marks, etc). For the exhibition at REDCAT, Agency selected a series of cases from its list, posing a speculative query: “How can ephemeral things become included within art practices?”

The exhibition features a selection of ‘things’ from approximately 100 court cases available on shelves, with twenty openly displayed on tables at any given time. The controversies concern a range of practices from fine arts, gaming, music, reality television, sports, theater, etc. These cases will be shown in an almost forensic way, showing different elements related to the cases in order to bear witness.

Agency will convene a series of five public assemblies in the Gallery at REDCAT, to discuss the context of the controversy in question. Fragments of court decisions and related documents will be read, and reports will speculate on issues related to ephemeral practices in an open discussion. For each gathering around a particular case, a diverse group of Los Angeles’ concerned practitioners will be invited to contribute.

In order to qualify for copyright protection, an artwork must be “an original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression” and must exist in a form that is “sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.” Many art practices fail to meet this requirement and a fixation would render their ephemeral aspects almost impossible to protect. These practices have been largely ignored in the past because of the difficulty of fixation, but with modern recording techniques, unscripted works became the new “frontier” for expanding the protection of works. In some instances the actual scope of intellectual property rights encompasses an infinite set of potential variations.



Wednesday, March 4, 6 pm: Thing 001620 (Joseph Beuys, Das Schweigen von Marcel Duchamp wird überbewertet, 1964)
Thing 001620 (Joseph Beuys, Das Schweigen von Marcel Duchamp wird überbewertet, 1964) concerns a controversy around a 2009 exhibition of Manfred Tischer's photo series entitled "Joseph Beuys, Das Schweigen von Marcel Duchamp ist überbewertet, 1964" at Museum Schloss Moyland in Germany. The exhibition included nineteen black and white photos of Beuys' actions during the December 11, 1964, ZDF television live broadcast from Düsseldorf studio of a TV program called Drehscheibe, about Fluxus happenings. Beuys' performance was not recorded. Eva Beuys and the Joseph Beuys Estate objected to the exhibition of the photos claiming it was a copy of Joseph Beuys' performance. On September 29, 2010, during the court case VG Bild-Kunst and Eva Beuys v. Museum Schloss Moyland, at the Civil Division of Düsseldorf Regional Court, the judge had to decide if Beuys’ unrecorded performance could be considered a work of art protected by copyright.

Wednesday, March 11, 8pm: Thing 000856 (baseball games) 
Thing 000856 (baseball games) concerns a controversy around the television broadcast of baseball games in the United States. Baseball teams filed an action seeking a declaration that the telecasts of the games are copyrighted “works made for hire” in which the players have no rights. The players claim that the clubs’ ownership of the telecast copyright does not confer on them any rights to the underlying performances, and that the players have publicity rights to their likenesses and performances embodied in the games’ telecasts. On May 23, 1985, during the court case Baltimore Orioles and others v. Major League Baseball Players Association at the the United States District Court of Illinois in Chicago, Judge Charles Kocoras had to decide if the copyrights of game telecasts also incorporate the performances of the players.

Wednesday, March 18, 8pmThing 001259 (En Attendant Godot) 
Thing 001259 (En Attendant Godot) concerns a controversy around the play "En attendant Godot [Waiting For Godot] by Samuel Beckett, interpreted by La Compagnie Théâtrale Brut de Béton and its director, Bruno Boussagol, with female performers in the four main roles. The representatives of the Samuel Beckett estate and the SACD [Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers] refused to grant La Compagnie Brut de Béton the permit to perform the play on the grounds that “according to the wishes of the author, this work cannot be interpreted by female actors.” On October 15, 1992, during the court case Jérôme Lindon from Beckett estate and SACD v. Compagnie Brut de Béton and Bruno Boussagol at the Tribunale de grand instance de Paris, Judge Dissler had to decide if the stage directions by Samuel Beckett were an inherent part of the copyrighted protected play and his moral rights.

March 25, 8pm:Thing 002121 (Satin Doll) 

Thing 002121 (Satin Doll) concerns a controversy around the instrumental version of the jazz song "Satin Doll" by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. The Strayhorn Estate and Tempo Records claimed rights in Strayhorn's arrangement of the Ellington melody, including the addition of a harmony, as a derivative work. On December 16, 1993, during the court case Tempo and Strayhorn estate v. Famous Music and Ellington estate at the United States District Court of New York, Judge Sandon had to decide whether a different harmony added to an earlier jazz composition could be protected by copyright.

April 1, 8:30pm: Thing 001211 (Count Dracula)
Thing 001211 (Count Dracula) concerns a controversy between the estate of the actor Bela Lugosi and Universal Pictures around the merchandising of items during the release of the 1931 film Dracula with Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. On January 31, 1972, during the court case Bela George Lugosi and Hope Linninger Lugosi v. Universal Pictures at the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, Judge Bernard Jefferson had to decide whether Lugosi's estate could hold a proprietary right in Bela Lugosi’s facial characteristics and the individual manner of his likeness and appearance during his performance as Count Dracula in the film Dracula.


Funded in part with generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Flanders, State of the Arts, Belgium and GuestHaus Residency, Los Angeles.


Associated Images: