Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Mar 01, 2008 12:01 am CST
When officials at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art decided to litigate against artist Christoph Büchel over an incomplete commissioned piece, they probably didn’t realize what they were getting into.
Although the museum won its federal court battle to display to the public a massive maze representing American culture that the Swiss artist had been assembling inside a warehouse, it lost in the court of public opinion as many in the art world condemned the action. So last month, the museum gave in and dismantled the work, reports the International Herald Tribune.
But that’s not the end of the matter. Surrounded by the usual debris of concluded litigation, Büchel is making use of the pleadings, correspondence and redacted documents to create new works of art, the newspaper recounts. He has even asked his lawyer to obtain permission to use Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art documents that the museum designated as confidential during discovery, so they can be included, too.
“This new series of works I have been doing is a kind of physical manifestation of the principle of freedom of speech and expression that the dispute is about,” explains Büchel in an e-mail. “It says to the museum: You cannot shut me up. You tried, with your lawsuits and your fancy pro bono lawyers, but you cannot do it.”
New York Times: “Museum Can Show Disputed Artwork, Judge Rules”