Conference 2019

MACCH Conference 2019: Bridging the Gap. Theory and Practice in the Conservation of Contemporary Art
24 – 27 March 2019
Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, The Netherlands

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For several decades already, the conservation of contemporary art constitutes a dynamic field of research and reflection. At first, this research was primarily instigated by conservation professionals working in or with museums and other heritage organisations, but increasingly academic researchers and universities have been involved as well. This is visible for instance in the growing number of PhD dissertations devoted to challenges in the conservation of contemporary art and of research collaborations between academic and professional institutions. Although such research is often conducted by researchers with a conservation background, it still remains to be seen whether and how their findings and insights are translated into the daily work practices of conservators in the field – or, vice versa, whether and how the problems and dilemmas encountered in conservation practice find their way into broader research questions and projects.

Convened towards the end of The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, this symposium aims to strengthen the exchange between theory and practice in the conservation of contemporary art by exploring promising practices (and failures) and by critically questioning its conditions and drawbacks. It is a collaboration between the EU funded Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network New Approaches in the Conservation of Contemporary Art (NACCA), the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH) and the Bonnefantenmuseum Maastricht. Next to the presentation of the 15 NACCA PhD projects, it will host several keynote lectures, panels and round tables.

Preliminary programme

Sunday, 24 March


Opening lecture Prof Theodore Schatzki + discussion


15.30 – 17.30
Panel 1: Theoretical attempts to rethink the artwork and artist intent and their implications for conservation ethics and decision-making
The problems of contemporary art conservation have generated various attempts to develop alternative notions of the identity and authenticity of the work of art and of the intentions of the artist. What characterizes these notions and what do they imply for conservation ethics and decision-making? How do they work in conservation practice – to what extent are they helpful and what are their limits?
1. Brian Castriota (NACCA), Creating, Implementing, and Actualising Katie Paterson’s “Future Library” (2014–2114)
2. Marta Garcia Celma (NACCA), Stakeholder theory for the conservation of contemporary artworks
3. Nina Quabeck (NACCA)
4. Dr. Nicola Foster, Towards an Ethics of Intangible Art
5. Marina Valle Noronha


Monday, 25 March

Keynote Prof. Dr. Ann-Sophie Lehmann + discussion


10.30 – 12.30
Panel 2: New materials and materialities
On the one hand, new materials (plastics, organic materials, digital media) require new forms of scientific expertise to secure their conservation; on the other, materials and materiality play a different role in contemporary artworks than before. To what extent do insights from more anthropologically and philosophically oriented understandings of materiality like material culture studies and new materialism help in addressing these issues? What are the benefits and limits of these understandings seen from a practice point of view? But also, how can (the study of) conservation practices open up new research avenues?
1. Tomas Markevicius (NACCA)
2. Dawn Rogala, Would You Like That With or Without Mayo? How Interdisciplinary Collaboration Slows the Spread of Popular Misconceptions in Modern Art Scholarship
3. Cybele Tom, Why Old Art Matters to Contemporary Art Conservation
4. Joanna Kiliszek (NACCA)

12.30 – 13.30

13.30 – 15.30
Panel 3: New modes of production, new modes of collecting
Production processes in contemporary art have become increasingly complex. The range of materials used by artists is endless, as is the urge to experiment outside of the traditional art production processes and materials. Artist’s studios have become complex hubs. Some delegate routinely and delegate to a variety of fabricators or industries while others develop highly specialized in-house skills. The re-appropriation of found materials and off-the shelves/mass produced objects, and the use of delegation, have strong implications for the conservation of contemporary art. Modes of collecting and displaying contemporary art are also extremely diverse with many non-collecting institutions displaying art and institutions commissioning of ephemeral pieces that might get acquired later but were not meant to be permanent. How can research and theory in conservation help in mapping these complex processes?
1. Iona Goldie-Scot (NACCA)
2. Louise Lawson, Helia Marcal and Acaita Finbow
3. Siri Peyer, A public art collection buys performance art – a field test
4. Caitlin Spangler-Bickell (NACCA), New modes of conserving: integrating front-of-house with backstage practice
5. Patricia Falcão, Christopher King and Melanie Rolfe

15.30 – 16.00

16.00 – 18.00
Round table discussion on the future of training

Tuesday, 26 March

Keynote Prof. Gabriella Giannachi + discussion


10.30 – 12.30
Panel 4: New approaches to documentation and archiving
In contemporary art, the idea that an artwork is a finished and self-sustaining end product made by the artist alone has given way to a more open-ended and dynamic conception of the work’s modes of existence. This is especially true for allographic and performative artworks and puts a lot of emphasis on the gathering, documentation and archiving of information about the processes constituting these works. What are promising approaches and models to present, display, or reproduce such complex, extensive and dynamic bodies of information? What can be learnt from other disciplines in this respect?
1. Aga Wielocha (NACCA), Bridging collection and archive, artworks and documents: radical institutional approaches to contemporary art and their impact on conservation
2. Dušan Barok (NACCA), Database for the Documentation of Contemporary Art
3. Sophie Lei (NACCA)
4. Claudia Röck (NACCA), Snapshots: Bridging the gap between operation and archiving of software-based artworks
5. Maike Grün, Better without the artist? Re-Installing Thomas Hirschhorn’s Doppelgarage (2002): Decision Making and Evaluation


Poster session

14.00 – 15.00
Lunch including poster viewing and walk to SRAL and Bonnefantenmuseum

15.00 – 16.00
Visit SRAL or Bonnnefantenmuseum (tbc)

16.00 – 17.00
Guided tour Ine Schroeder exhibition (tbc)

17.00 – 18.00
Reflection and discussion at Ipanema

Conference dinner at Ipanema

Wednesday, 27 March

Keynote Christy Maclear + discussion


10.30 – 12.30
Panel 5: Art, law and the market: artist estates & public and private collections
There is an increasing awareness that traditional role definitions and distinctions (as between conservators and curators) are changing, that museums need to adapt their infrastructures and go outside their institutions to collaborate with stakeholders such as artists and their estates, technicians or programmers or the public, and with external experts in order to care for works of art. What does this mean in practice? What are best practices and what are bottlenecks? What is required for collaborations to be successful and what problems may arise?
1. Artemis Rüstau (NACCA), Conservation according to need: Understanding conservation practices in private collections
2. Zoë Miller (NACCA)
3. Anke Moerland, Trust or Contracts: Relationship between artists and museums
4. Anna Schäffler, Caring for Artistic Legacies – The Increasing Role of Artist Estates in Contemporary Art Preservation
5. Christian Scheidemann

12.30 – 13.30

13.30 – 15.15
Panel 6: Challenging professional and institutional roles and responsibilities; expanded networks: collaborations and controversies
To what extent and in what way are conservation strategies in contemporary art influenced by legal constraints and by the art market? What happens for instance when artists pass away and their work is taken care of by other stakeholders like artist estates, gallerists or private collectors? What is the role of commercial enterprises (like insurance companies) in conservation? What kind of research and theory is needed to account for these influences?
1. Maria Theodoraki (NACCA), The quest of perpetuation of contemporary artworks as a demand for a new professional role
2. Panda de Haan (NACCA)
3. Pip Laurenson

15.15 – 15.45

15.45 – 17.00
Round table discussion on the future of research

Closing drinks

Please register on the MACCH website.

Jan van Eyck Academie
Academieplein 1
6211 KM Maastricht

Maastricht University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
PO BOX 616
6200 MD Maastricht
The Netherlands

For practical information: Yleen Simonis
For substantive information: Vivian van Saaze

The conference is co-funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network NACCA, funded by the European Union H2020 Programme (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2014) under Grant Agreement n°642892 and the University Fund Limburg SWOL.

Conference website on MACCH

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