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Friday, May 31 • 2:00pm - 2:20pm
(Contemporary Art Session 1) Making Marks: An Ethical Dilemma in the Creation of Art

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Artist Todd Pavlisko has made his mark as a conceptual artist, most notably with the video triptych Centerpiece, which documents him driving a nail through his own foot. When an exhibition of Pavlisko’s work was proposed for the summer of 2013 at the Cincinnati Art Museum, little was known of what the artist would suggest for a new work which would relate to the museum gallery space and collection. Therefore, when Pavlisko submitted a proposal involving a former Navy SEAL firing a tactical rifle inside the Cincinnati Art Museum many staff members were rightfully concerned but the museum was committed to the exhibition and wanting to support an artist with local roots.With one curator strongly in support of the project, another adamantly opposed, and the rest of us stuck somewhere in between, we were left to work out a solution to a dilemma that challenged our ethics and the museum standards we are so dedicated to uphold.The safety of staff, art work, and the physical building were of immediate concern.We were also required to consult with our fine art insurer to see what penalties we might encounter.

With a verdict that we would proceed, a second even more challenging decision had to be made: temporarily relocate two life-size marble sculptures or allow a professional marksman to fire a tactical rifle twelve inches to the side? The instinctive reaction was to move the sculptures;however what action was honestly more likely to put the objects at risk, physically moving them to and from with gantry or allowing someone who is professionally trained to make the mark? Conversations, while focused on the objects’ safety, strayed to the professional conscience. What will my colleagues think? Will the institution earn a bad reputation leading to the withdrawal of loans or exhibitions? Or will it have the opposite effect and mark the Cincinnati Art Museum as a progressive institution in the contemporary and conceptual art world?

This presentation will provide an overview of the project and subsequent exhibition, while focusing on the decision making process, the outcome, and final thoughts on the success of the project.

avatar for Megan J. Emery

Megan J. Emery

Associate Conservator of Objects, Cincinnati Art Museum

Friday May 31, 2013 2:00pm - 2:20pm EDT
JW Marriott White River Ballroom E 10 S West St Indianapolis, IN 46204

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