Artist Shalini Sanjay Patel left me at the altar on STATE OF THE UNION delivery day. Actually, she did start down the isle by delivering a portion of her piece, but then, when she was asked to sign the release, she refused, thus causing the break up of our engagement.
Shalini’s piece began with a phone call. When I answered, I heard a voice on the other end, letting me know that I had qualified for something free, and that I could expect to receive it in the mail after I gave the voice my home address.
After I received the package, I emailed Shalini a copy of the release to sign. It was the same release that I had asked all of the artist’s participating in the project to sign. All had agreed to sign it, however, Shalini sent me a return email that read:
“I would be happy to do a more condensed, specific contract for how it would be displayed/distributed. But this release is way too broad – it’s not something I can sign. If that’s a problem, consider the work (as is) a gift, and anything you do with it to be at your own risk legally.”
I responded in an email explaining that the purpose of the project was, like in a marriage, to sign a contract between us giving each other rights. I told her that if she couldn’t sign the release, I couldn’t use her work. It was as simple as that. Then I asked her if she wanted her work to be returned to her.
She responded with the following email:
“I will take the work if you cannot use it.”
Again, I responded to her email letting her know that if she could not sign the release, I could not use the work. I asked her to let me know when she wanted to come by and pick it up.
Once again, I was reminded that a Prenup might have been a better way to go. Had I presented the release to all of the artists before they made their work, everyone, especially Shalini, would have known everything they were getting into. I found it interesting that everyone else signed the release without a second thought. I wondered how many read it fully, or has signing contracts become so second nature to us? Have we become so accustomed to clicking on “Agree” whenever agreements pop up on our screens that we assume the best?