An upcoming conference will show that artists do more with the law than get in trouble with it.
This weekend, over 350 people from all over the world will attend “The Legal Medium,” a multidisciplinary conference taking place this Thursday through Saturday at the Yale Law School. Organized by a group of 14 graduate and undergraduate students, the event aims to explore the relationship between art and the law, focusing on topics such as how artists manipulate legal boundaries in their work. Amar Bakshi LAW ’15, the main organizer of the conference, said the upcoming event is unique in that it approaches the art-law connection from an artistic rather than a legal perspective.
“Most conferences on law and art tend to be about how lawyers deal with issues such as repatriation of works, cultural property in different domains or even the economics [of art] and its linkages to different legal systems,” Bakshi said.
Alexandra Perloff-Giles LAW ’17, a co-organizer of the conference, also highlighted the uncommonly interdisciplinary nature of the conference, noting that it draws together a large variety of professionals from different disciplines, such as architects, curators, lawyers and poets. She added that such collaborative ventures between multiple graduate schools at Yale — including the YLS and the Yale School of Art — are also rare.
The conference will feature a presentation by performance artist Tehching Hsieh, who is renowned for acts such as relegating himself to solitary confinement for a year. His piece will both comment on legal regimes and interact with them, according to Bakshi.
Four discussion panels will also be held during the conference, exploring how artists interact with laws of the human body, artificial and natural environments, the digital world and the government.
Perloff-Giles emphasized that encounters between art and law in the modern world occur in many different ways. She cited the detainment of artist Tania Bruguera, originally a speaker for the conference, in December 2014 by the Cuban government after Bruguera attempted to stage an open mic event in Havana, Cuba.
In conjunction with the conference itself, Lucy Hunter GRD ’19 is curating an exhibition entitled “Irregular Rendition” at the Fred Giampietro Gallery on Chapel Street. Hunter said the exhibition seeks to expand the ways in which laws — ranging from laws of jurisprudence to laws of physics — are viewed from an artistic perspective.
Hunter also said that, in light of the conception that law might be a “heavy” subject to visualize, she decided to show pieces that are visually pleasing and enjoyable.
The exhibition also features 24 film still-shots from conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll’s “Federal,” a movie in which cameras are positioned to capture the exterior of the Federal Building in Los Angeles, Calif. for an entire day.
“Federal” will be screened on the day of the conference, while Carroll herself will be a panelist.
“Irregular Rendition” will close on March 14.