Sunday 18 February 2018

my narrative without consent


And is ownership the only path by which we recognize a claim of right? Does a claim of
right confer, as it has been often suggested, a concomitant responsibility? Is this
responsibility a matter of morality or of ethics? If we assume, at this point safely, that
history is plural, and that objects have an existence separate from their authors, then
ownership, being as unfixed and perspectival as history itself, is too slippery a handle,
too long a line. For it would seem that the artist owns something in the work and the
public owns something else, and the next public another thing altogether. Leaving
aside, for the moment, any private claims of ownership and right, or whether the thing
itself has some right to persist despite or throughout these shifts. This would appear to
be the role of the art institution, to provide a berth for this thing that contains and creates
its histories. And the role of art historian, to provide a berth for the historical institution
as it maneuvers along its public and private lines. For if it was the formerly the
Government that deemed works obscene, it is now social media, and the communal-
corporate (and perhaps other government) -sponsored veridiction of a public opinion,
which plays the part of what can be seen. And why some things cannot.
To put it very simply, the question seems to be no longer what is art, but why is art.