Re: <nettime> Just do it! - Intellectual theft as a curatorial
     John Young <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
     Florian Cramer <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
     Aileen Derieg <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

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Date: Sat, 09 Jul 2005 07:40:07 -0700
From: John Young <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Just do it! - Intellectual theft as a curatorial

Too many artists are crippled by the expectation that the riff-raff leeching 
off creative work (beware demeaning that with sleazy "art") who will 
promote and valorize their work. 

Honest artists fight for themselves not seek racket-protection of curators,
critics and commercial bandits. Yeah, those exploit their family and friends
but hey it's hard to survive on a self-wrought island.

Copyright (like fame) is a scam of the riff-raff to induce dependency by
creators (like intellectuals) who are forever bitching about being
ripped off by those whose asses they kiss for peanuts of pay and rigged,
evanescent "recognition."

Artists who seek recognition have their priorities awry, usually in a
funk about their incapability of creating, and are inclined in their
dried up prunishness to put their neediness before their output. 

Fuck artists on the make and their avid curatorial pimps, instead
eyeball and earwave their pallid art futilely exculpated by their
whinings and machinations in the market.

Hell, artists have no magic capacity to see or exhibit themselves
clearly except by way of their art, so they will remain susceptible to
being conned by flattery, self-flatterty especially (blessed are family
and friends), and promises and dreams of narcotic recognition. 

Pity the poor bastards but don't believe their panhandling signage
institutionalized in copyright, plagiarism harem scarem and vile prizes
of world-class triumphalism.

Full-time artists are just not worth shit. Making art should be a
sideline of dirt farmers and street whores. Displayed along with
backyard-grown fruit and sexual aids. The high-faluting museum hegemon
of gowns and tuxes is no better than its national security underwriters
down on Wall Street.

It is as easy to cultivate young artists for exploitation as it is to
prepare youngsters to war for the nation. Sages and seniors say that's
the way it is: recognition for you, sucker, not our pay to flummox you.

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Date: Sat, 9 Jul 2005 13:55:19 +0200
From: Florian Cramer <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Just do it! - Intellectual theft as a curatorial

I'm chiming in as another person whose writing, an essay on "Open
Content", has been incorporated verbatim and without attribution into
the catalogue, making up a contiguous block of 23 of its 240 pages.

> Sure, but that doesn't seem to address Inke Arns's main point. The
> issue at hand, as described in the original post, is the fact that the
> curators--who as members of a profession supposedly in the business of
> giving credit--didn't share the wealth of attention, not as convention
> or justice dictates, but rather as simple courtesy.

Exactly. Both Inke and me were never contacted or informed by the
curators, by Lentos Museum Linz or the publisher, Edition Selene. I
coincidentally found out that one of my texts was in the book after I
had bought it for 22 Euro. [Quite some money for a patchwork of entirely
uncredited and unpaid-for texts.] 

> Rip offs happen, but you can do it nicely by passing on the rewards of
> that which you freely used, or you can be a dink about it. If one
> decides that the latter is the case, then a little reputation-bashing
> (very different than belly-aching) may be in order. That is part of
> the game, too, you know--ie the way things are.

Yeah, but I also see an issue of professionalism and professional ethics
here. It's quite ironical that my text in the book is a historical and
formal explanation of Free Software copylefts and Open Content models.
What's more, the text was released by me under an Open Content License,
the "Open Publication License" <>.
This license says:

| All modified versions of documents covered by this license, including
| translations, anthologies, compilations and partial documents, must meet
| the following requirements:
|     1. The modified version must be labeled as such.
|     2. The person making the modifications must be identified and the
|     modifications dated.
|     3. Acknowledgement of the original author and publisher if
|     applicable must be retained according to normal academic citation
|     practices.
|     4. The location of the original unmodified document must be
|     identified.
|     5. The original author's (or authors') name(s) may not be used to
|     assert or imply endorsement of the resulting document without the
|     original author's (or authors') permission.

This is plain language, and the rules are clear. The anonymous
incorporation of the text into the "Just Do It" catalogue infringes on
every single of the above five paragraphs. 

So I have the same case as the developer of a GPLed program whose code
got illegally ripped off into a piece of proprietary software. It's the
kind of cases which the project <> brings
to court, with sweeping success to date. If were more zealous and had
more time, I should do the same just for the sake of defending Open
Content licensing and clarifying that it holds water.

> To me, the more substantive question is what evidence of intention
> exists. As described, the catalogue's failings might not even be
> attributable to the curators, but rather to a book designer who, for
> example, took liberties by separating texts from author's names. 

Not at all! This is what happened:

- The text appears as one continuous, 240 pages piece of writing without
chapters or table of contents, and only some interspersed section

- The imprint says "Lentos Museum (editor), Just Do It!" and lists the
director of the museum and the three curators of the exhibition.

- The curators even went on a reading tour, among others in Hamburg and
Berlin, where they read "their" text to an audience.

So it's clear that they consider the catalogue a "conceptual" piece of
culture jamming and appropriation art itself, applying the methods of
the artists in the exhibition to the editorial work on the catalogue.
Inke's open letter points out all the misunderstandings of artistic
"appropriations" and "culture jamming" in this editorial approach, so I
don't need to repeat them here.

> Also, as grounds for criticism, the fact that the book is being
> commercially distributed means little. When was the last time an
> exhibition catalogue made money?

True, although the curators made money off other people's work by being
paid also for writing the catalogue. And it's somewhat odd that their
exhibition provided download terminals for public Internet resources,
but that you can't download the catalogue vice versa. They only took,
but don't give back. It's a classical case of hegemonic rebranding,
producing a "reference work" on artistic appropriation and culture
jamming [I am quoting from several reviews in the media] for which only
the curators and the museum get credit.

> Part of the reason I took an interest in the original post is because
> it turns out that I will be in Linz at the museum next week, and
> perhaps will see the catalogue.  Maybe I'll change my mind....

The real problem here is an ethical one. Lentos museum is a public [i.e.
state-funded] institution and as such has to play by legal rules. If the
curators make it their concept to violate copyright and not play the
legal rules, they should realize their project outside state
institutions and not take public money for it. You can't have it both
ways, taking all the liberty of the cultural underground, combined with
the comfort and financial benefits of a state institution. 

And if you are a high-profile curator like those who made the "Just Do
It" exhibition [whose resume includes the art section of Expo 2000 and
the forthcoming Manifesta 6], you can't work as a "subversive"
plagiarist and then take traditional curatorial credit for your work and
write it into your resumé that gets you the next high-profile public job.

If a public institution and art institution like Lentos Museum thinks it
can violate institutional ethics and the law on purpose - comparable to
a state which systematically breaks its own laws against its own
citizens -, then it's not subversive or critical, but cynical.

If I were the director of Lentos Museum and (like Stella Rollig who, by
the way, was Austria's "Federal Curator" before going to Linz) sign
responsible for both the catalogue and the exhibition, I would resign.



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Date: Sat, 9 Jul 2005 21:02:31 +0200 (CEST)
From: Aileen Derieg <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject: Re: <nettime> Just do it! - Intellectual theft as a curatorial

Inke Arns' "Open Letter" has been posted and forwarded to several lists in 
the past week, leading to more extensive discussions. In the interest of 
a constructive discussion of the issues involved, there are a few points 
raised here that I would like to clarify, although I can't speak for 
Lentos or the curators in any kind of "official" capacity, only as a 

First of all, the "skull book" that is the issue here is not a catalogue 
of the exhibition. The exhibition itself is documented with a CD-Rom with 
pictures, texts and a conventional "virtual walk-through". The skull book 
was never intended to document the exhibition, but rather to augment it - 
a kind of theoretical reflection on the practices presented in the 

Question: Does it work to provide an exhibition with its own theoretical 
reflection, or does that necessarily have to come from "outside"? Is it 
the book format that has led to confusion, as a book in conjunction with 
an exhibition would normally be expected to simply *document* an 
exhibition (naturally with all the attributions and credits that are 
essential to a documentation)?

The texts included in the book are from many different authors and they 
can all be found on the web. This compilation of words is intended to be a 
"sampling" of ideas related to the exhibition. While the various fragments 
and passages of different texts have been put together to form one long 
new text consisting entirely of previously existing texts, the authors of 
the original texts are listed on the back page in alphabetical order (side 
note: regrettably, a few names are missing, because the original list got 
lost in a computer crash and had to be reconstructed) - separate from the 
text (as far as possible in a book with no extra pages).

Question: As the exhibition dealt with practices of appropriation and 
plagiarism, questioning ideas of authorship and originality, the book 
attempted to take up those same questions with a completely "non-original" 
text without an attributable author. If this intention was not 
recognizable - as it appears now that it was not - was it because the idea 
is inherently flawed, or because the book itself did not meet its own 
goals? Would the book have been received differently, if it had come with 
a more detailed explanation of its purpose and intention - in analogy to 
artworks that do not necessarily "communicate themselves" but require 
supplementary information and explanations to be understood?

The publication information in small print on the right-hand side of the 
first page indicates the connection with the exhibition "Just do it" at 
the Lentos Art Museum, listing the dates of the exhibition, the name of 
the director of the museum and the curators of the exhibition. The 
curators' names are also included in the list of authors on the back page 
(along with all the others, including Arthur Schopenhauer, Groucho Marx, 
the Situationist International, to mention a few not likely to want 
attribution at this point), because some of the text fragments are taken 
from their own writing in various other contexts. This link to the 
exhibition was needed, because the exhibition is, first of all, the reason 
for the book, and also to be able to use funding for the exhibition to 
publish it. The book was published by Edition Selene (in an edition of 600 
copies), which is a small specialized publishing company in Vienna. This 
would not have been possible without funding from the exhibition.

As far as I know, all 600 copies of the book are gone now (there is 
exactly one, slightly battered copy left at Lentos). No one expected the 
book to get that much attention, but it is unlikely that a second edition 
will be printed.

For various reasons, this discussion is important in the broader context 
of current controversies regarding cultural policies in Linz. If you read 
German, the current issue of "Kulturrisse" includes an article about 
Stella Rollig's work as the director of Lentos and an interview with 
Cornelia Sollfrank about her experiences with cultural policies in Linz 
as a candidate for the position of artistic director of Ars Electronica 
last summer. For those of us concerned with this situation, a constructive 
critical discussion of the "Just do it" exhibition as well as other 
exhibitions and endeavors here would be very helpful.

Gruesse aus Linz,

On Fri, 8 Jul 2005, Dan S. Wang wrote:

> I have seen neither the show nor the catalogue, so I of course I
> cannot offer an evaluation of those.
> But it seemed to me that Inke Arns's comments were more about courtesy
> (and the lack thereof) than a diatribe against rip-offs. John Young's
> response veer more closely toward the platitudinous than Inke Arns's
> "diatribe."  For example, the following, which was posted as its own
> paragraph:

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