3:30 PM (EDT)

Ronan Bretel

Doctoral candidate, École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay

To Be or to Be Made a Work, a Juridical Reflection on the Reification Through the Display of Bodies (in French)

Brett Bailey, Exhibit B (2000-2014)
Photo: Sofie Knijff
Can one legally become a work? The question of becoming refers back to both a future and a process. To speak of The work rather than a work refers back to an essence rather than a state. Through three characteristic cases that the French law has learned of (the exhibition Exhibit B (2000-2014), the actions by Tino Seghal and the decried display of Our Body (2009)), we propose to see how the ethical and legal intertwine in this passage from “the person to the thing” (as Marie Cornu states), the jurist argues that these bodies that are shown as objects, either as, or as a substitute of something absent. We here propose to view how a Being in becoming a thing—and therefore a belonging—troubles the summa divisio of the entire law: the person against the good, the legal inflection of the philosophical dualism of object and subject. It is in this crystallization of the times and places of the display read through a teleological interpretation of the “meaning projected” on this exhibitionary apparatuses that the forbidden seems to disappear in favour of the tolerated, or on the contrary that public order opposes the reification of the body. To be or to be made a work, this seems to be the crux of the juridical issue of reification through the display of bodies that we propose to examine in our intervention.

Ronan Bretel is a jurist in art, culture and heritage law. He is temporarily a teaching and research associate at Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas and a Ph.D. student at the Institut des Sciences sociales du Politique of the Ecole normale supérieure Paris-Saclay. He is currently writing a thesis on “the legal apprehension of the art market: from regulatory power to the state as an operator” under the direction of Marie Cornu (research director at the CNRS). A graduate of University Paris II Panthéon-Assas in art market law, he also studied copyright law at the University Paris-Sud XI. He was headed a study about the circulation of artworks for the CNRS. He is a permanent member-observer of the UNESCO “fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural property” commission and contributed to the case law monitoring for the French Heritage Code (Dalloz). He notably teaches copyright law (Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle), art market contract law (Université de Nantes) and cultural heritage law (Université Catholique de Lille). Among his latest articles are: “Une nouvelle figure juridique : les archives privées ,” “Dation et donation d’œuvres d’art dans la loi du 31 décembre 1968 : charges et réserves d’usufruit” or “ Du sacré en droit du patrimoine culturel.”