Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mass MoCA removing Buchel materials

Mass MoCA announced this evening that it has begun removing Christoph Buchel’s unfinished installation “Training Ground for Democracy,” despite a federal judge’s ruling Friday that the museum could publicly display the work.

The museum's press release says:
Ever since the artist left MASS MoCA in December 2006, the museum explored every possible avenue in an effort to re-engage the artist, and when those efforts proved futile, the museum offered him the opportunity to retrieve the materials from the museum galleries (reimbursing the museum for its costs), which he declined to do. In late May 2007, MASS MoCA sought a declaratory ruling in the U.S. District Court, Springfield, Massachusetts, to rule on its and the artist's rights in regards to the unfinished work. Even after bringing suit, however, MASS MoCA sought on numerous occasions to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the dispute. None of those efforts were successful.

"With several hundred tons of materials and thousands of objects and partial constructions sitting abandoned in our galleries, we carefully considered what we could do," said Joseph C. Thompson, MASS MoCA's director. "We obviously cared a great deal for the work and had expended extraordinary effort and energies to try to bring it into existence; we did not want to act precipitously in either dismantling or displaying it. With no other options, and wanting to move forward as the situation continued to draw resources away from other artists and public programming, we sought a declaration of our respective rights by an impartial party - a federal judge."

Judge Michael A. Ponsor of the U.S. District Court Second Circuit ruled on Friday, September 21, that MASS MoCA could exercise its curatorial discretion with respect to the materials, including making the assembled materials available for viewing when accompanied by signage explaining that it was an unfinished work.

"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 a experimental platform for art-making, and we look forward to commencing work immediately on the previously announced installation by Jenny Holzer, Projections, which will open November 17, 2007.”
Mass MoCA, with help from the Clark Art Institute, plans to host a symposium later this fall “devoted to the issues raised by this case,” the release said.


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