Born in 2016 from the will of Jean-Maurice Belayche, Philippe Méaille and François Morellet, the François Morellet Prize is the only prize to which François Morellet agreed to give his name.
Every year, it rewards a literary work or an author for his commitment to contemporary art and is part of a collaboration between the Château de Montsoreau – Museum of contemporary art and the National Book and Wine Days (Saumur).
On 11 October 2020, the François Morellet Prize will be awarded to Kenneth Goldsmith for his book Duchamp is my lawyer. The polemics, pragmatics, and poetics of Ubuweb, published in 2020 by Columbia University Press.
In 1996, when the web is relatively new, Kenneth Goldsmith created the UbuWeb platform to publish hard-to-find works of concrete poetry. Starting as a sharing site featuring works from a relatively obscure literary movement, UbuWeb has become an essential archive of avant-garde and experimental literature, film and music from the 20th and 21st centuries. Thanks to this site, Internet users around the world now have access to canonical works by artists such as Kara Walker, Yoko Ono, Pauline Oliveros, Samuel Beckett, Marcel Duchamp, Cecil Taylor, Glenn Ligon, William Burroughs and Jean-Luc Godard.
In Duchamp is my lawyer, Goldsmith looks back at the history of UbuWeb, explaining the motivations behind its creation and how works are archived, consumed and distributed online. Based on his own experiences and interviews with experts, Goldsmith describes how the site navigates copyright issues and how it challenges the history of the avant-garde. The book also describes the growth of other “shadow libraries” and discusses the artists whose works align with UbuWeb’s goals, aesthetics and ethics. It concludes by contrasting UbuWeb’s commitment to the free culture movement with the current guardians of algorithmic culture, such as Netflix, Amazon and Spotify.
Kenneth Goldsmith is the first MoMA poetry laureate, founder and publisher of UbuWeb, professor of Uncreative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania and host of New York radio station WFMU. He advocates for writing that is plagiarized, copied and transcribed. Considered a major figure in contemporary creative writing, he is also seen as a paradox when he is received at the White House as a writer, when he has publicly admitted to stealing other people’s words and advocating plagiarism.
Following the model of Conceptual Art, Kenneth Goldsmith develops his texts according to new forms of installations and broadcasts, reflecting on the new possibilities offered by the digital and internet.
He is notably the author of Kenneth Goldsmith: theory (2015) and Uncreative writing: managing language in the digital age, (2011).
In 2020, the Pays de la Loire region joins forces with the National Book and Wine Days and the Château de Montsoreau – Museum of Contemporary Art to award the François Morellet Prize.