Agency: Assembly (Showroom)

Agency: Assembly (Showroom)

The Showroom

Agency, “Assembly (Animism),” 1992–, MuHKA, Antwerp.
Photography Bram Goots, 2010.
Courtesy MuHKA.

April 9, 2011

Agency: Assembly (Showroom)
13 April–28 May 2011

12 April 2011, 6.30-8.30pm63 Penfold Street
T 020 7724 4300

Opening hours: Wednesday–Saturday, 12–6pm
Assembly event: 28 May 2011, 2–5pm

The work of Agency constitutes a growing list of ‘Things’ that resist easy categorisation, such as divisions between culture and nature, creations and facts, subjects and objects, humans and non-humans, individuals and collectives. These things are derived from judicial processes, lawsuits, cases, controversies and affairs relating to the subject of intellectual property (copyrights, patents and trade marks, for example).

Assembly (Showroom) focuses on the complexity of collaborative relationships in art and how the law struggles to define these when problems arise, and in this show, Agency speculates: ‘How to include collectives in art?’

For example, Thing 000880 (Papa Hemingway) concerns a controversy between Ernest Hemingway’s estate and the biographer Aaron Edward Hotchner. Hotchner reproduced notes of his dialogues with Hemingway against the will of Hemingway’s estate. During a court case in 1967, the judge had to rule whether or not the dialogue between the interviewer and interviewee could be cited as a joint work.

Similarly, Thing 000918 (Portrait Photographs) concerns a controversy between the Olan Mills Photography Studio and the Eckerd Photo Laboratory about the ways in which portrait photographs are treated. The Eckerd lab reproduced existing photos of people—at their request—but without the permission of the photographer. This led to a court case in 1989 in which the judge questioned the notion of joint authorship between photographer and the photographed subject.

Assembly (Showroom) brings together a collection of ‘Things’ discussed in cases or controversies, and which are described by Agency as ‘witnesses’. These range from books, films, music, architectural plans, sculptures, audio recordings, training videos, letters, interviews, magazines, etc., which will be displayed on tables accompanied by explanatory texts.

Agency has invited five speakers to revisit the debates surrounding a couple of the Things in Assembly (Showroom) at an event on the afternoon of 28 May 2011.

Agency is the generic name of a Brussels-based organisation that was established in 1992 by Kobe Matthys.

The Showroom enables new work by artists who have not had significant exposure in London before. The Showroom is focused on collaborative, discursive and process-driven approaches to production, be that artwork, exhibitions, discussions, publications, knowledge and relationships.

For further press information and images please contact Kate Stancliffe on 020 7724 4300, or

The Showroom is supported by Arts Council England and members of the gallery’s Supporters Scheme. Assembly (Showroom) is supported by the Henry Moore Foundation, the Flemish Government Agency for Arts and Heritage and is part of Circular Facts, funded by the European Commission.

Agency: Assembly (Showroom)
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April 9, 2011

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