Museum Security Network

Karachi, Pakistan: ‘Archiving art helps verify legitimacy’

‘Archiving art helps verify legitimacy’
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010818story_18-8-2010_pg12_6

By Sohail Raza Khattak

KARACHI: In Pakistan verifying the authenticity of the art work is a big problem due to the absence of a tracking and archiving system in the art galleries, museums and any other places where paintings, miniatures and sculptures are sold.

University of Sindh Institute of Art and Design Lecturer Waheeda Baloch said this during her speech on ‘Curating Art with Law and Management Issues’ at the VM Art Gallery.

Baloch said in Pakistan most of the artists do not have any idea where their paintings are being sold and how many. Neither the artist nor the art galleries keep track of whom the paintings were sold to and where the work is being kept. “They just put the money in their pockets and forget about the rest,” she said.

If the art galleries keep a record of the paintings, miniatures and sculptures that they sell, it will be possible to find a particular piece of art if needed, even after 20 years, she said, adding, “It will also help us in knowing the legitimacy of the art work. We don’t have any equipment to verify the authenticity of paintings, for example we cannot find whether a particular painting is the real art piece by Sadeqauin or just a copy of it.”

Talking about the concept of copyright in the field of art, she profoundly elaborated the various types of copyrights and status in different countries, and compared it with Pakistan. “Here most of the artists are ignorant of their rights and the publishers exploit them. When a painting is sold to somebody they consider that the artist has sold them the economic rights of the painting, so they start reproducing thousands of copies to make money.”

She said there are moral rights that an artist can exercise to forbid his paintings from being exhibited in such a place where he considers his work may be used to defame him.

Baloch said that ideas, methods and even styles do not fall within the jurisdiction of copyright laws. One can follow anyone’s style and work on the methods of someone else, but ideas and concepts are unique and also can only be recorded verbally, therefore, to avoid theft artists must keep the ideas to them.

Shedding light on the contract signed between the artist and the curator, she focused on the establishment of an artists’ organisation, the role of which would be to protect rights, give suggestions to the artist regarding contracts, monitor infringements and settle cases between two parties.

While criticising the role of artists in the country, she said, “Most of the artists in our country make copies of their own paintings or sculptures on requests made by people, which I think is not a good practice.”

She condemned those artists who write their names on the paintings made by their students or other junior artists, and said, “Ethically it is wrong not to give credit to the true owner of the work.”

Talking about framers, she disclosed that many of them make their workers prepare exact replicas of works by renowned artists and sell the items for up to Rs 50,000, while they only pay the workers Rs 10,000. “Despite all these there is a big difference between skills and creativity. These workers, although not trained at any institute, copy things perfectly but they can’t create new things,” she concluded.

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