Art Installations and Agreements: What You Ought To Know

by Manojna Yeluri

Artists, in increasing numbers, are choosing to create and convey their artistic vision through installations which often rely on a mix of sound, technology, performances, art and design. Almost every installation involves a number of elements and moving pieces, often making it a challenge to ensure their proper protection, maintenance and display. With more artists being invited or commissioned to undertake such projects, it is important to be clear about the terms and conditions one needs to sign up for.

Here are a few quick pointers.

(1)  Purpose and scope: It is always important to be very clear about the scope of the agreement. This means being very specific regarding the details of the engagement you are entering into. If you are being commissioned for an installation project, ensure that your agreement captures all the requirements, responsibilities and expectations that you and the client have discussed.

(2)  Rights over the work: Installation projects often comprise multiple mediums, and this implies that different aspects of the work might require different kinds of protection. It is important to understand which parts of the project will need a copyright, a patent or a trademark. In addition, when showcasing the work for a client, it is important to clarify whether the rights of the work will belong to them, or whether the rights remain with the creator of the project; and in such cases, whether the client is obtaining an exclusive or a non-exclusive license over the work, and for what purposes exactly.

(3)  Publicity and display: The actual display or performance of the project might require close supervision. In such a case, it becomes necessary to address this need for attention to detail in the agreement itself. Even small oversights while drafting an agreement can have major consequences, so it is always a good idea to draft or review an annexure detailing the maintenance of the project as well as those who will be available on ground to support the installation itself.

(4)  Insurance: Owing to the complexity of these projects, it is always a good idea for the client and creator to discuss insurance for the installation, in order to cover any foreseeable accidents or damages. Speaking to someone who understands insurance for art work or someone familiar with Errors and Omissions Insurance is always a good idea.

(5)  Transport and other costs: The project might require the creator to incur costs such as transportation and storage, as well as other costs related to structural damage (such as vandalism and so on). Keeping this in mind, it is important that the client and creator discuss these possible costs in advance, and also specify who will bear the costs in such foreseeable events of damage.

These are just a few simple clauses to look out for. It might be better to consult a lawyer, manager or another artist who has worked on similar projects before signing on the dotted line.

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