Refusals, Disclaimers, and Denials: Cady Noland's Recent ”Work"

Frazer Ward


The artist Cady Noland has made no new work essentially since 2001, and has turned instead to policing the circulation of her existing works in the market. This essay analyses  Noland’s recent legal activities, in which she has mobilised the law, primarily via the Visual Artists Right Act, to prevent the circulation of works that she considers to have been improperly maintained. Noland has withdrawn her authorship and her works’ status as art, and has created financial risk for collectors. In so doing, Noland has performed (or refused to perform) the labour of art in a way that can be understood in relation to refusals by a range of other artists, including Adrian Piper and Tehching Hsieh, and in terms provided by Giorgio Agamben’s reading of Melville’s Bartleby, the scrivener. Noland’s refusals, seen as an extension of artistic practice, open onto philosophical potentiality, and the possibility of art and artist being revalued in ways that disturb their current situation under the sign of the commodity.


Cady Noland; Visual Artists Rights Act; Bartleby the scrivener; Giorgio Agamben; refusal; value; art market

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