March 18th, Art of Appropriation Conference

DHI Studies in Performance and Practice Research Cluster and The Center for Science and Innovation Studies Presents:

The Art of Appropriation

March 18, 2014 Andrews Conference Room, 2203 Social Sciences and Humanities Building, 10AM-4:30 PM

The appropriation and the integration of copied images and ideas into our way of life, by buying or stealing commodities, acquiring knowledge, the claiming and naming of places on the map has a long tradition. But appropriated objects and spaces have raised questions about the relationship of ownership, property rights and cultural heritage.  Similarly, appropriation has been a key feature in modernist and postmodernist art and cultural practices, the global enforcement of copyright law have made such appropriations more and more difficult. Criticism and parody used to be a safe way of appropriating material, however, with the recent indictment of whistleblowers, such forms of criticism (along with freedom of the press) seem to be in peril. The extension of copyright, has made it more difficult to understand just what belongs to the public, or even what constitutes the commons. The Art of Appropriation seeks to bring together legal scholars, with visual media scholars, and practioners to discuss the relevance of appropriation to public culture and the arts.

Kriss Ravetto-Biagioli (organizer)
John Zibell (graduate organizer)

Talks by:

Martine Beugnet, “Critical Remix” (Visual Studies, Paris-Diderot 7)

Mario Biagioli, “Against Pastures: The Commons as Movement from” (Law, CSIS, UC Davis)

Justinian to Stallman” (Law and Science and Technology Studies,UC Davis)

Tarek Elhaik, “Curation & Repetition” (Media and Culture, San Francisco State University)

Tatiana Flessas, “Ends of the Museum” (Law, London School of Economics and Politics)

Madahvi Sunder, “Theories of Fair Use” (Law, UC Davis)

John Zibell, Scoring Beckett: Emergence Exhaustion and Event (Performance Studies, UC Davis)


Coffee: 9:30-10:00 AM

Introductory remarks: Kriss Ravetto

Session 1: 10:15-11:45 — Appropriation as the effacement of the archive

“Critical Remix”
Martine Beugnet

This paper looks anew at the contemporary trend for sampling and compiling film footage amongst video artists and filmmakers. Whilst, thanks to digitization, cinema’s infinite archive has increasingly proved a valuable and fertile source of inspiration and appropriation to a growing number of artists, some of the resulting video work testifies to a current tendency towards the fetishization of the act of collecting itself. Here, the work of selecting and re-assembling film fragments tends to overlay or substitute itself to film form, effacing the critical and aesthetic significance of film-making proper. Arguably, artistic practices such as video compilation do not so much blur the frontier between artist and curator, than reflect the general trend towards the growing separation of consumption from production.  The paper will discuss a number of diverse approaches to the revisiting and remixing of the cinema archive, from Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2011) to Tracey Moffat’s critical compilation work (Love, 2003 and Lip, 1999), Harun Farocki’s anthology Workers Leaving the Factory (1995), and Laura Mulvey’s Imitation of Life remix (2012 (1958)).

Martine Beugnet is Professor in Visual Studies at the University of Paris 7 Diderot. She has written articles and essays on a wide range of film and media topics, and has published four books: Sexualité, marginalité, contrôle: cinéma français contemporain (L’Harmattan, 2000), Claire Denis (M.U.P, 2004), Proust at the Movies (Ashgate, 2005) together with Marion Schmid, and Cinema and Sensation: French Film and the Art of Transgression, Edinburgh University Press (2007 and 2012). She also co-directs, together with Kriss Ravetto, a book series in film studies at E.U.P.Martine Beugnet <>

Scoring Beckett: Emergence Exhaustion and Event
John Zibell

This paper begins an inquiry into particular listening practices and methods of playing improvisational theatrical scores. Improvisational scores, I will argue, can generate difference in the body; they can work as what I call technologies for exhaustion after the writing by Gilles Deleuze on Samuel Beckett’s languages. For Deleuze, Beckett uses three types of language to exhaust both the realizable and the possible. Exhausting the possible requires: “forming exhaustive series of things” (Language I) which constitutes a language of lists and names: a second language of “waves or flows that pilot and distribute linguistic corpuscles” to “dry up flows of voices” (language II); and third type of exhaustion, “extenuat[es] the potentialities of space” and “dissipat[es] the power of the image” (language III). By playing with these three languages through the use of scores that Beckett demands of his players, improvisers can train/tune their bodies to listen for, maintain, sustain, and refresh exhaustion thus keeping the emergent emerging rather than pulling it into discourse to create an event.

Session 2: Museum rituals: stealing authority


“Curation & Repetition”
Tarek Elhaik

The talk engages the task of curation less as an authored or collective history of exhibition, or indeed as the sole domain of contemporary art, than as a conceptual pedagogy immanent to the force field of contemporary inter-medial culture. The proposed form of curation is conceptualized in tandem with Deleuze’s ontology of theft and repetition.

Tarek Elhaik is a media anthropologist, film curator, and Assistant Professor of Media and Culture at San Francisco State University. His work is informed by a research on Mexican experimental media and an ethnography of curatorial platforms in Mexico City. He has curated several experimental film programs at the Pacific Film Archive, Ruhrtriennale, San Francisco Cinematheque, Tangiers Cinematheque, Rice University, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. His writings have appeared in books and journals including Framework, Revista de Antropologia Social, and Critical Arts. He has recently completed a manuscript titled Incurable-Image / Untimely Futures: Lessons from Mexico City.

“Ends of the Museum”
Tatiana Flessas

In recent years, there have been a plethora of cases in which museums have had to release treasured pieces. New legal initiatives and developments increasingly make repatriation claims by source nations and other single or group ‘original owners’ possible, most recently in the area of illicitly-trafficked antiquities. Recent scholarship radically questions the genealogy and functions of the museum, and its relationship with the concepts of space, culture, and identity. In terms of space, there have been analyses that place the museum at the centre of disciplinary projects, ‘civilizing rituals’, architectural expressions of the diremptions in the genealogies and cultural histories of modernity. In terms of culture and identity, there have been similar deconstructions of the links between nation-building and housing art and artefacts. Museums are now searching for strategies to protect their collections from the loss of authority and status that attend repatriation claims in this climate of criticism. Yet, do museums collude in this loss of authority by joining in the ‘propertization’ of their collections? Embedded in the notion of modern museology is the primacy of the object. This, arguably, aids the legal and political initiatives that permit deaccessioning of objects, imposing external requirements on the retention or return of certain types of collections, and regulating the relationship between the collector and the museum.

Tatiana Flessas teaches Cultural Property and Heritage Law, Art and Antiquity Law, Property Law, and Law and Social Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  Dr. Flessas’s main area of research is in the area of cultural property and legal theory, focusing on the emergence of cultural property regulation and heritage legislation as discourses of modernity.  She has written on the problems of defining cultural property, the controversy surrounding the ownership of the Parthenon Marbles, and the issues that arise when requests to repatriate ancient objects or skeletons are made of museums and governments.

Session 3: Mobilizing Property: Fair Use and the Commons


“Theories of Fair Use”
Madhavi Sunder

Law and economics scholars imagine a narrow fair use doctrine that would find exceptions to copyright and trademark infringement only where there is market failure. I will discuss broader theories that have historically grounded this doctrine, and which continue to give explanatory power to current legal analysis.

Professor Sunder is a leading scholar of law and culture. She was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2006 and has been a Visiting Professor of Law at the Yale Law School, the University of Chicago Law School, and Cornell Law School. Her work traverses numerous legal fields, from intellectual property to human rights law and the First Amendment. Professor Sunder has published articles in the Yale Law Journal, the Stanford Law Review, the California Law Review, the Texas Law Review, and Law and Contemporary Problems, among others. Her book, From Goods to a Good Life: Intellectual Property and Global Justice, was published by Yale University Press in 2012.

“Against Pastures: The Commons as Movement from Justinian to Stallman”

Mario Biagioli

The recent discourse of the intangible knowledge commons mobilizes emphasizes the importance of communal property arrangements or shared access to resources, but typically does so by mobilizing spatial figures, like pastures, that have been central to the discourse of tangible, real property.  Going back to Roman law, I argue that the difference between property, commons, and the public domain was not conceived only as a different kind of space or ‘estate’, but also as the capacity for movement. Far from images of organic communities operating according to moral economies, the genealogy I try to retrace points to a recognition of the importance of passing through, moving away, and the movement of strangers.

Mario Biagioli is Distinguished Professor of STS, Law, and History, and Director of the new Center for Science and Innovation Studies at the University of California at Davis.  Prior to joining UCD, he was Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, specializing in intellectual property in science.  He is the author of Galileo Courtier (Chicago, 1993), Galileo’s Instruments of Credit (Chicago, 2006)), and the co-editor of The Science Studies Reader (Routledge, 1998), Scientific Authorship (Routledge, 2003), Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property (Chicago, 2011), and Nature Engaged (2013). He is currently completing a book on plagiarism in science.