Paola Antonelli and her famous salons

Friday 1st April, 2022 - Bruce Sterling

*They’re occurring in-person again! It’s good news for the world! I hope nobody gets sick and dies, but the risk is worth it for the sake of the cause!

Dear Bruce,

I am happy to invite you to our second event of 2022, MoMA R&D Salon 38: IP: Imperious Property taking place on Monday, April 11th from 6pm to 9pm, at the Bartos Theater, MoMA. We will be in-person and happily resuming our usual post-discussion reception.

Some background: In 2012, we launched MoMA R&D to explore the potential and responsibility of museums – MoMA in particular – as public actors, with the vision of establishing our institutions as the R&D departments of society. Part of this initiative is a series of intimate gatherings that tackle themes relevant both within and beyond the museum walls. The Salons’ goal is to generate a lively discussion that will not only inform the museum and its program, but also the wider conversation in the world outside.

Previous salons, which I encourage you to view here, have examined, among other topics: the tension between high and low culture; the aspirations and anxieties surrounding big data and algorithms; and then plastics, death, hair, anger, and angels, among many others. You can also find a complete list of previous speakers here.

For our next salon, we will discuss the topic of property––intellectual, cultural, and political––and justice.

The protection of intellectual property, the adage goes, is intended to compel investment in R&D, enhance creativity, and spur innovation. We also know, however, that it can have the opposite effect, entrenching the power of a few companies and limiting progress, just as international patents stifled global access to vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to cultural property, the patrimony of whole people, their language, history, and heritage may become the victims of foreign appropriation and even erasure, and thus may need to be acknowledged and protected. Elsewhere, as we are now witnessing in Ukraine, claims of shared culture are used as rationale for invasion and war. And more granularly, some claim that cultural evolution has always been the product of someone else’s work. How does this all sound in the age of IP, and further, repatriation, reparations, and restitution?

Some questions we will pose in this salon include: What does it mean to protect intangible property? Can culture be property? Whose? How has the definition of property transformed, especially in relation to technology? How does property change ownership? What is acquisition? What is appropriation? In this day and age, can a country be another country’s property? How, and when? How does its meaning change when an object, piece of land, or idea are offered instead of taken? How can we delineate what constitutes property when it comes to creative production? What is the difference between creative exchange and creative theft? What are the limits of cultural preservation, and when does it become cultural oppression? Is all property worth protection? When does an individual inventor, company, or group’s right to that protection infringe upon the public good?

As always, we will be left with more questions than we began with — but hopefully they will be better, more pointed and stimulating questions that will stay with you.

The evening will commence with a brief introduction by yours truly, followed by equally brief presentations by – here in alphabetical order:

Laura Anderson Barbata is an artist born in Mexico City who works between New York City and Mexico City.Barbata’s work is focused on participatory art projects that document communities and traditions, using art forms as platforms for social change, contemporary performance, and group participation.

Priti Krishtel is a health justice lawyer and co-founder of the Initiative for Medicines, Access, and Knowledge (I-MAK), a nonprofit organization that challenges systemic injustice and advocates for health equity in drug development and access. For two decades, Krishtel’s work has exposed structural inequalities in vaccine and medical access in the United States, and across the globe.

Marion Nestle is the Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she officially retired in September 2017. Her research and writing examine scientific and socioeconomic influences on food choice and its consequences, emphasizing the role of food industry marketing. She is the author, co-author, or co-editor of fourteen books, most notably Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health (2002).

Marci Shore is an associate professor of modern European intellectual and cultural history at Yale University. Her research focuses on the intellectual history of twentieth and twenty-first century Central and Eastern Europe. She is the author of three books, among them The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution (2017).

The presentations will be accompanied by the screening of a series of short videos cut specifically for Salon 38.

In the final part of the salon, I will moderate a lively Q&A in which I hope you will take part. Come prepared and please do send us any burning questions you would like the group to address. We look forward to an engaging discussion that will not only have a lasting impact on the Museum but will continue to invade your thoughts for days to come.

Regarding safety precautions, as of March 28th, masking is optional at MoMA–though strongly recommended–and we are no longer requiring proof of vaccination for entry into the Museum. Additionally, the Bartos Theater will be filled to 100% capacity.


MoMA R&D Salon 38: IP: Imperious Property
Monday, April 11, 2022
6- 9pm
MoMA Bartos Theater, 4 West 54 Street

RSVP by Monday, April 4 by clicking below:


The program is free but the invitations are very personal because of the size of the theater. If you would like to bring a guest or if you have a suggestion for an additional attendee, please email


As always, my colleagues and I would like to wholeheartedly thank Allianz, MoMA R&D’s sponsor, for supporting the realization of our Salon initiative.



Paola Antonelli
Senior Curator, Architecture & Design
Director, Research & Development
The Museum of Modern Art
twitter: @CuriousOctopus
Instagram: @paolantonelli and @design.emergency