A.Chernyshev and A.Shulgin
Generative video installation. 2008
Authorship of this piece has been transferred from artist Roman Minaev to artistic collective Electroboutique. Such an action is impossible from the judicial point, but we executed it deliberately and that is why. Non-transferability of attribution rights is the basis of existing art market and institutional art systems. When buying an art work collectors heavily consider the artist's name. In many cases, they only buy a work because of the nametag. We have seen that attribution of a work to say Picasso is rising its price to millions of dollars. Same is true for curators - curated exhibitions and museum collections are very much showcases of the names.
Since the rise of the art market, an artist's name serves as a trademark. Very often an artist acts as a production company with many employees. For example, dozen of artists have worked as assistants for Damien Hirst and sure they have contributed a lot to the artistic qualities of his work. Although, all the "hirst" works are attributed to him. This is a situation of an implicit, partial attribution transfer. The law protecting attribution rights, in fact protects the fame/name-based system and the capital invested in the art market. In a situation when an artist's name is a brand name, the quality criteria of a work becomes less important than the brandname value. Sometimes it's just enough to puff a name through a scandal and/or corruption and then enjoy the celebrity status. Attribution transfer is happening in hidden ways anyway, but when hidden it just supports the system. Star artists with a lot of money can buy artistic vision and talent from younger unknown ones. It seems impossible that capitalism might agree to legalise authorship transfer because in the Western cultural paradigm a work of art is an extension of the artist, a child, a piece of soul. How can that be transferred? In fact any artwork is a heavy mix of other people's ideas, traditional cultural forms, technological inventions, etc. The authorship is a very doubtful notion (invented and developed mainly for the market reasons). Many generations of avant-garde artists were opposing it in various ways; we propose our own vision, the practical one. If we change the law and make authorship transfer possible, things will change dramatically. In this case, the authorship would become unimportant, and the role of an artwork itself would rise up instead. Critics would need to develop different systems of contextualisation. If we keep the law and don't question it - the next great artist will be someone like Paris Hilton.