Saturday, 15 March 2008

News: Collecting Live Art

First published:
a-n Magazine April 2008
© Writer(s), artists, photographers and AN: The Artists Information Company
2008. All rights reserved.

The Collecting Live Art symposium launched independent curatorial initiative Collecting Live Art and addressed key issues surrounding the collection, sustainability and legacy of live art.

The line-up included Paul Hobson, Director of The Contemporary Art Society, Lois Keidan of Live Art Development Agency, Dominic Palfreyman from the Felix Trust for Art, Niru Ratnam, gallery director of Store, as well as art critic Sally O'Reilly and artist Bedwyr Williams.

The timing of the symposium was crucial, coming at a time when a small – albeit progressive – section of the art world is beginning to rise to the art market challenges that live art presents.

The currency of the live in today's contemporary visual art is most blatant in the recent appearance within the growing number of UK private, commercial galleries that deal, represent or exhibit live art (not just its documentation), including Herald Street, The International 3, Limoncello, Seventeen, Sorcha Dallas, Store, Workplace and Vinespace. The thirst for the live is also evident at the Frieze Art Fair and in organisations such as the Contemporary Art Society, that provide professional development programmes for agents, collectors and curators who want to buy, deal, exhibit or conserve live, time, action or body-based work.

The symposium raised critical questions, such as How can live art gain realistically leave its mark? Should performance be for sale? Can the ephemeral actually be bought and owned? and if so, Who decides its value? However, it was clear from the presentations that, while these questions are important and intriguing, they remain relatively unanswered. The symposium nevertheless offered insights into the complex world of collecting live art. We heard about sale of performances by Richard Dedomenici, Tino Seghal, La Ribot and Bedwyr Williams – sales negotiated without precedent or best practice guidelines on legal ownership, conservation or copyright and so broke new ground all round. However, Paul Hobson was quick to point out that new ground is not easily won; the lack of clarity on live art sales is a real obstacle for all but the most forward-thinking collector. As a result, a secondary (resale) market is non-existent. Clearly, practical, legal and intellectual issues need to be resolved before its economic viability and legacy is ensured and we can only hope that the government, arts councils, and in turn other UK national collections, are not too slow in following the commercial sector's footsteps.

Rachel Lois Clapham

1 comment:

  1. Which of my performances do you make reference to?