15.09. – 16.09.2018; Designsalon until 21.10.2018; Linz.
The right makes all the difference.
The exhibition “Same Same But Different“, which is part of Designsalon Linz, raises questions about intellectual property and the ways in which it is used and exploited.
Cui bono? This is probably the most pressing issue when talking about the utilisation and exploitation of ideas.
This question is extremely relevant for the artists, creative minds and scientists who came up with these ideas. Yet, it is just as relevant for the directors of multinationals, for managers of investment funds, or for people suffering from AIDS in Africa, who die because they can’t afford the expensive patented medication which could guarantee their survival.
At Upper Austrian Landesmuseum Linz-based Kunst- und Designsalon explores an aspect of this set of questions in this year’s exhibition “SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT”: It contrasts branded goods with copies of designer pieces in order to show how often “intellectual property” is copied. The exhibits form part of a collection belonging to “Aktion Plagiarius e.V.”, which is supported by large companies selling branded goods and by the law firms that represent their interests.
The exhibition is also an interesting basis for further discourse about the relation between “original and forgery“, which is also a very hot topic in the art market.
Philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin already dealt with this topic in his widely acclaimed essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” of 1935. He explored the question of which aesthetic, political and economic aspects are connected to the fact that works of art have become reproducible at will due to industrial processes. Walter Benjamin’s main focus was on the relationship between mass production, the taste of the masses and fascism, which he thought were directly related. Due to the reproduction en masse a work loses its critical potential and is reduced to its mere aesthetic value, which also serves fascism for its “formation of mass society”. “Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate.“, postulated Walter Benjamin in 1935. An observation which is still highly relevant nowadays.
When Walter Benjamin wrote his essay, the international brand, design and patent right was still in its infancy. It was only made into a powerful instrument of rule and domination after the Second World War. This new instrument effectively sealed the unequal distribution between North and South and between the value added by multinational corporations and their investors, and the wage that Vietnamese seamstresses, for instance, receive.
When artists and designers join this debate with individual utilisation interests of their own works in mind they should be aware of the fact that they are also – whether voluntarily or involuntarily – becoming helpful promoters of very different groups. Aside from the fact that it is never the artists who gain the lion’s share of the money made from “intellectual property” anyway, but branded goods companies, film distributing companies, streaming platforms or online book trade giants.
At Linz-based Designsalon the groundwork for an interesting discourse about these questions has been laid down.
Linzer Art- and Designsalon
Exhibition 15.09 – 16.09.2018
Designsalon till 21.10.2018
15.09.2018, 19.00 Uhr