Seminario Fundación Cisneros 2013 | Promises of the Commons

Seminario Fundación Cisneros 2013

Promises of the Commons: Authorship, copyright and access in contemporary art

November 15, 2013

Universidad Central de Venezuela, Caracas

Through a dynamic event combining the model of Pecha Kucha and symposium, the Fundación Cisneros Seminar 2013, entitled “Promises of the commons” presents several cases that address copyright, intellectual property and access in contemporary art -positions, quarrels, and reconciliations that have unfolded at an accelerated pace in recent decades due to the internet uses. For this third iteration, the Fundación Cisneros Seminar is held on November 15, 2013 in the Concert Hall at the Cultural Complex Aula Magna in the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas.

A workshop on copyright, by registration only, will take place prior to the seminar. This workshop is led by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, and is co- presented with Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.

The array of mechanisms of collaboration, reproduction and uses of the commons that have emerged over the last decades impact the way we conceptualize the idea of ​​the public and the private. Both cultural production and the interpretation of law as a central mechanism in the construction of the social are deeply affected by this reorganization. Therefore, regulatory frameworks and protocols operating in the field of art are open to interpretation and redefinition. The seminar “Promises of the commons” focuses on exploring how the arts are impacted by these processes, while they interrogate and reveal its ambiguities and contradictions.

“Promises of the commons” addresses contemporary artistic practices and cultural projects that challenge the convergences and differences between what is considered private and common property. Today, the Internet allows information – visual, text, and so on –to operate as a vehicle while being an active tool (code), which transforms the traditional paths for negotiation between public and private, self and mutual, singular and participatory.

How does art sublimate or subvert these processes and, at the same time, release and reveal the mechanisms of participation, dialogue and friction inherent to this new public sphere, transforming its democratic capacity? These and other questions are triggered and addressed in the Fundación Cisneros Seminar 2013.


Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, "Promises of the Commons"

In its third edition, the Seminario Fundación Cisneros will reflect on the ways in which notions of intellectual property, and particularly copyright, have been tapped and critically framed in and by contemporary art. While appropriation in art has been a trigger for uprooting and discussing ideas around authorship and property in the field of culture -- and therefore about meaning and value -- there are other instances, as there are fields of production, that can provide a clearer genealogy and framework to understanding copyright, its alternative known as copyleft, and the potential of copy-future.

Terry Fisher (USA), "Copyright, Copyleft, Copyfuture"

Four theories have been developed to justify and interpret the legal rights enjoyed by artists and authors. The first focuses on fairness, contending that authors are morally entitled to the rights or rewards of their work. The second privileges self-fulfillment, arguing that people should have the legal means they need to fully realize personhood. The third focuses on society’s welfare, advocating the creation of incentives to induce creators to generate works from which all benefit. The fourth considers society’s welfare more capaciously, contending that the law should foster a just and attractive culture.  All four theories have implications for contemporary art.  I will show that the fourth theory is the most illuminating, deriving guidelines from that perspective for the legal treatment of appropriation art.

Professor Fisher received his undergraduate degree (in American Studies) from Amherst College and his graduate degrees (J.D. and Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization) from Harvard University. Between 1982 and 1984, he served as a law clerk to Judge Harry T. Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the United States Supreme Court. Since 1984, he has taught at Harvard Law School, where he is currently the Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property Law and the Director of the  Berkman Center for Internet and Society. His academic honors include a Danforth Postbaccalaureate Fellowship (1978–1982) and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences in Stanford, California (1992–1993).

Marion von Osten (Germany), "Overcoming original and copy"

Overcoming original and copy: Commoning and translation as counter practices in the visual arts' will explore James Clifford’s concept of “traveling cultures” that invokes the exchanges that cultures have historically had with other regions’ material and symbolic worlds. Cultural translations are a reminder of the non-originality of any cultural expression. To highlight cultural transfer as an emancipatory force is critical; recent discussions in Western art history tend to revive previous held concepts to analyse contemporary art history. Transnational relations, exchanges of discourses, and multiple practices of sharing, translating and interpreting, enable concepts beyond the horizon of contained culture, a concept developed under European colonialism. This close reading of the cultural Magazine "Souffles" published in Rabat from 1966-1972 ten years after Morocco's Independence, will address that production’s transnational and transcultural dimension.

Marion von Osten is an artist, researcher and exhibition maker. She works with curatorial, artistic, and theoretical approaches that converge through exhibitions, installations, video, text productions and publications. Her main research interests concern cultural production in postcolonial societies, technologies of the self, and the governance of mobility. She is founding member of kleines post-fordistisches Drama (kpD), Labor k3000 Zurich, and of the Center for Post-colonial Knowledge and Culture (CPKC).Von Osten lectures at the Center for Curatorial Studies (CCC) Bard College, New York, and is part of the PHD in Fine Arts Program at Malmö Art Academy. Between 2006 and 2012 she was Professor of Art and Communications at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna. She lives and works in Berlin.​

Rafael Ortin (Venezuela), "Art and Copyright in Venezuela"

This presentation will make a diagnosis of intellectual property in Venezuela, with special emphasis on copyright in the visual arts. It will address the general limits to the right to use and reuse others’ works, such as the right to quote, use of preexisting works, branding and image in the works. It will analyze the business model, the collective management of the (secondary uses) and "droit de suite," and explore the challenges of copyright and protection of an authors’ work that are faced under a context of new technologies of information and production.

Rafael Ortín teaches Copyright and Modern Technologies in the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas, as well as at the Intellectual Property Specialization in Universidad de los Andes in Mérida, and Competition Law at the Specialization in Intellectual Property at Universidad Metropolitana de Caracas, among others. He has been International Consultant of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Cerlag, and the General Society of Authors and Editors (SGAE). He has been a speaker in several countries, and published extensively on copyright and unfair competition. He is currently Managing Partner of the law firm specialized in Intellectual Property Márquez, Henriquez Ortin & Valedón in Caracas, Venezuela.

Pecha Kucha

Gerardo Zavarce, Fabiana Garreta, Lucas Ospina, "Public Domain"

The first Pecha Kucha will address access and the right to information, raising questions around the relation between intellectual property and public domain. How can we balance the property rights of authors with the notions of freedom of expression? Is there rivalry between the recognition of creativity and the public interest? Is social welfare adverse to the interest of the creator? These and other questions will be addressed. Introduction: Nicholas Gerardi

Gerardo Zavarce (Venezuela)
Zavarce holds a BA from the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV, 2000). He is a researcher, developer and adviser in the area of ​​culture and visual arts. He has taught in the departments of sociology of art, analysis of socio-cultural state, aesthetic seminar, and community service at the arts school of the UCV. He has participated as an organizer and speaker at national and international events, and is a regular contributor at various publications. He currently works as a consultant and researcher at the ONG (Organización Nelson Garrido) and as curatorial deputy director at El Anexo Arte Contemporáneo.


Fabiana Garreta (Brazil)
Fabiana Garreta is a lawyer with over 15 years of practice. Currently Garreta is the Head of Operations to AUTVIS – Associação Brasileira dos Direitos de Autores Visuais, a non-profit collective management association based in São Paulo, Brazil. AUTVIS is responsible for licensing the reproductions of artistic works from photographers, visual artists, sculptors and designers in books, catalogues, magazines, internet, TV, etc. Garreta oversees of the executive area, being responsible for establishing a relationship between artists and users, as well as monitoring the use of these artist’s works. Moreover, Garreta plays an important role in promote these artists in different places such as: AUTVIS website, exhibitions, etc.


Lucas Ospina (Colombia)
Bogotá, 1971. Sometimes he draws, sometimes he writes. Professor, Universidad de los Andes.

Willy McKey, Alexander Provan, Maris Bustamente, "The Right to Copy"

The act of copying can help us rethink the idea of ​​subject, object, the alike and the different; it raises questions around copyright and private property in contemporary art, and the practices of reproduction, appropriation and recycling as ubiquitous tools in today’s cultural production. Does an author’s ability to appropriate existing sources undermine the very concept of authorship? At what point does appropriation transcend its derivative tendencies and “transform” into an “original” artwork unto itself? These questions will be addressed by the presenters during the second Pecha Kucha.

Willy McKey (Venezuela)
Willy McKey is a poet, writer, editorial advisor, creative conceptualizer, and cultural agitator. He is part of the team behind ProDaVinci, hosts the podcast #PasajeAlSubir, and contributes with COMPLOT Magazine. He has published several articles in Papel Literario, a supplement of El Nacional. His first collection of poems, Vocado de orfandad [2008], won the Fundarte prize. He has conceptualized cultural experiences such as the website Necromenaje a la containerphilia for poet Rafael Cadenas along with Teresa Mulet, when the poet was awarded the FIL Prize in Guadalajara in 2009. His second collection of poems, Paisajeno, is also a performative experience that includes self-publishing, personalized sales and urbane  happenings. His email is, and his Twitter handle @willymckey. He’s not on Facebook, but he is on Pinterest.


Alexander Provan (USA)
Alexander Provan is the editor of Triple Canopy, a magazine and editorial collective based in NY, Los Angeles, and Berlin. He is also a contributing editor of Bidoun. His writing on digital culture, aesthetics, literature, and politics has appeared in The Nation, The Believer, n+1, Bookforum, Artforum, and  Frieze, among other publications. Triple Canopy has recently participated in exhibitions and organized public programs at the MoMA (NY), the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, MoMA PS1, and Artissima 18. Provan is a fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics for 2013–2015.


Maris Bustamante (Mexico)
Maris Bustamante studied Fine Arts at the National School of Painting, Sculpture and Engraving "La Esmeralda" in Mexico City, and founded the program CEDART, School of Arts, 1976-1980. She has worked in all traditional arts disciplines as well as performances, installations and environments. Bustamante has also been interested in mail art, object art and artists' books, theater scenery for art and design for television, film and advertising. She has made television performance in commercial channels, achieving to have 200 million viewers in a broadcast (La Patente del Taco, 1979), which is considered a great accomplishment for it being the only way to break the barrier of intellectual sophistication and to expand the perceptual horizon of audiences.

Jill Magid, Yona Backer, Gala Garrido, "Artistic License"

The last Pecha Kucha session explores the relation between ownership and authorship over time, and defines the terms under which the work may be modified, copied, or redistributed once it no longer is under the author’s control. When the public interest superimposes the private interest for legacy? Does the relation between access and the value of the work matter? What is the relation between the public interest in the artwork and its sustainability?

Jill Magid (USA)
Jill Magid is a New York artist and writer who forms intimate relationships with systems of power, including police, military, secret service, corporations, and CCTV surveillance. For Magid, power isn’t a remote condition to contest, but rather something to manipulate by drawing it closer, exploiting its loopholes, engaging it in dialogue, infiltrating its structure, repeating its logic.  Magid has had numerous solo shows and has participated in the Liverpool, Bucharest, Singapore, Incheon, and Gothenburg Biennials.  She is the author of four books, an adjunct professor at Cooper Union, and a 2013-15  Fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics.


Yona Backer (USA)
Yona Backer is a producer, curator, and consultant working in contemporary art and philanthropy. Over her fifteen-year career in the arts, she has been a curator, a program developer for arts and culture spaces, and a grantmaker with a special focus on underserved groups. She is the founder and executive director of Third Streaming, an interdisciplinary art gallery based in SoHo, NY. She has experience covering a range of issues such as the arts, film, performance/live arts nationally and internationally, with an emphasis in the Global South. The Backer Group is also led by Backer, an experienced grantmaker and formally Senior Program Officer at The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.


Gala Garrido (Venezuela)
Gala Garrido is a designer and general coordinator of the Organization Nelson Garrido, where she also teaches digital photography. In 2011 she had her first solo exhibition, entitled Suicidio incesantes, at the Galería Espacio MAD in Caracas. She has participated in various group shows, nationally and internationally. Her interests revolve around the photographic representation of the tension between fiction and reality; identities from a gender perspective, taking as starting points for critical reflection iconic images from art history, pop culture and mass media; the links between photography and poetic act, self-representation, and the body as an individual and collective metaphor.

Digital Correspondents

Roberto Mata (Venezuela)
Roberto Mata is founder and director of Roberto Mata Taller de Fotografía since 1993. His career began in the 1980’s as a photographer for Pandora, Feriado, and Papel Literario. Aside from teaching, he works as a corporate and advertising photographer, a regular contributor of multiple magazines and newspapers, and develops his personal work, which has been awarded multiple times, including the Grand Prix 31 Aragua National Art Hall (2006). You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RMTF

Alejandra Villasmil (Venezuela)
Journalist, visual artist and editor, Alejandra lived in New York between 1997 and 2007 where she studied visual arts, exhibited her work and worked as a senior correspondent for various media, among them the bilingual magazine Arte al Dia International. She lives in Chile since 2007, where she has been press director for Galería Moro, Museo de Artes Visuales (MAVI), Bienal de Artes Mediales (BAM) and Galería Gabriela Mistral from the Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes. In 2011 she founded the art magazine, for which she is editor. In 2013 she designed and coordinated the Certificate in Curatorial Studies at the Universidad del Desarrollo (UDD) in Santiago, Chile.
Twitter: @ revistartishock

Ileana Ramirez (Venezuela)
A Lawyer from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in 2002, Ileana specialized in Cultural Management at the University of Washington. In 2006 she worked as a logistics coordinator at the Sala Mendoza. She was co-curator of the exhibition “También los hombres son museos” in the first Experimental Curatorial Workshop in Periférico Caracas in 2011. She is currently Coordinator of media and cultural programming del Centro de Arte Los galpones. In 2009 she created Tráfico Visual, a virtual platform for the dissemination of contemporary art. Twitter: @ traficovisual

Workshop + Bibliography

The one-day workshop presented by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento, Contemporary Art and Intellectual Property: Appropriation and Copyright Law, will be presented in conjunction to the third edition of the Seminario Fundación Cisneros at Universidad Torcuato di Tella in Buenos Aires, Universidad de los Andes in Colombia, and the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros en Caracas.
How do artists deal with the inevitable fact that we are — regardless of our desire to resist — complicit in the economic production and replication of both property and intellectual property formation, transactions, and ownership? Can artists simultaneously participate in this “social network” and yet create a space where both tangible and intangible property, and by designation, private and public property, have a function other than that of preserving and perpetuating the exploitation of goods and the creation of vapid culture?

This four-hour workshop will engage these issues through presentation by the facilitator and group discussions. We will start with the initial foundations of property and then shift to the history of appropriation and appropriation art, bringing these concept-metaphors to a crisis with the mode of property ownership otherwise known as copyright.