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When Curating Meets Piracy: Rehashing the History of Unauthorized Exhibition-Making

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This article outlines key historical instances of the practice of unauthorized exhibition-making and examines related curatorial approaches. Taking the practice of appropriation by artists and various national court cases, statutes and international agreements as points of reference, it examines how the legal and ethical rights held by artists may impinge on curators' freedom of expression. It proposes that where curators re-use an artwork in a curated project without the artist's authorization, but with a measure of criticality, those actions may be justified. A deviation in the history of exhibition-making is revealed where the freedom of expression of the curator is not subordinate to that of the artist.
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Keywords: appropriation art; copyright; curating and the law; curatorial ethics; piracy; unauthorized curating

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Independent Curator

Publication date: December 5, 2012

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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