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April 12, 2022

We know the adage: intellectual property protection is intended to compel investment in R&D, enhance creativity, and spur innovation. We also know, however, that it can have the opposite effect, entrenching the power of few companies and limiting progress. International patents, for instance, stifled global access to vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. In one region, language, history, and cultural heritage may be the victims of erasure and foreign appropriation, in need of government protection. In another, they are used as rationale for invasion and war. It is happening now in Ukraine. And more granularly, some claim that cultural evolution has always been the product of someone else’s work. Pablo Picasso is, himself, credited with turning the phrase: “Good artists borrow. Great artists steal.” How does this sound in the age of IP, and further, repatriation, reparations, and restitution?

Some questions we will pose in this salon include: What does it mean to protect intangible property? Can culture be property? Whose? How has the definition of property transformed, especially in relation to technology? How does property change ownership? What is acquisition? What is appropriation? In this day and age, can a country be another country’s property? How, and when? How does its meaning change when an object, piece of land, or idea are offered instead of taken? How can we delineate what constitutes property when it comes to creative production? What is the difference between creative exchange and creative theft? What are the limits of cultural preservation, and when does it become cultural oppression? Is all property worth protection? When does an individual inventor, company, or group’s right to that protection infringe upon the public good?

As always, we will be left with more questions than we began with - but hopefully they will be better, more pointed and stimulating questions that will stay with you.

The evening will commence with a brief introduction by yours truly, followed by equally brief presentations by – here in alphabetical order:

Laura Anderson Barbata is an artist born in Mexico City who works between New York City and Mexico City. Barbata’s work is focused on participatory art projects that document communities and traditions, using art forms as platforms for social change, contemporary performance, and group participation One of her largest projects to date, Transcommunality, resulted in interventions combining character and narrative development with numerous collaborators in addition to textile arts, sculpture, dance, masking, music, procession, improvisation, ritual and protest.

Priti Krishtel is a health justice lawyer and co-founder of the Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge (I-MAK), a nonprofit organization that challenges systemic injustice and advocates for health equity in drug development and access. For two decades, Krishtel’s work has exposed structural inequalities in vaccine and medical access in the United States, and across the globe.

Marion Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she officially retired in September 2017. Her research and writing examine scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice and its consequences, emphasizing the role of food industry marketing. She is the author, co-author, or co-editor of fourteen books, most notably Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (2002).

Marci Shore is an associate professor of modern European intellectual and cultural history at Yale University. Her research focuses on the intellectual history of twentieth and twenty-first century Central and Eastern Europe. She is the author of three books: Caviar and Ashes: A Warsaw Generation’s Life and Death in Marxism, 1918-1968 (2006), The Taste of Ashes: The Afterlife of Totalitarianism in Eastern Europe (2013), and The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution (2017).

The presentations will be accompanied by the screening of a series of short videos cut specifically for Salon 38.

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The comments and opinions expressed in this video are those of the speakers alone, and do not represent the views of The Museum of Modern Art, its personnel, or any artist.

Image: “Man, Controller of the Universe" by Diego Rivera

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