New York’s Museum of Modern Art has added the @ symbol to its collection. How does that work? I’ll let them explain:
The acquisition of @ takes one more step. It relies on the assumption that physical possession of an object as a requirement for an acquisition is no longer necessary, and therefore it sets curators free to tag the world and acknowledge things that “cannot be had” – because they are too big (buildings, Boeing 747’s, satellites), or because they are in the air and belong to everybody and to no one, like the @ – as art objects befitting MoMA’s collection. The same criteria of quality, relevance, and overall excellence shared by all objects in MoMA’s collection also apply to these entities.
Which is all lovely and conceptual and quasi-Dadaist and I’m sure it will annoy Brian Sewell, but it does open up a new can of Vermeers. I mean, if acquisition is not dependent on ownership, could MoMA announce that they’ve just acquired the Mona Lisa? And if the principle extends to buildings, could Tate Modern announce that they’ve just acquired MoMA?