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36ème Congrès du CIHA - Lyon 2024

Parrainé par le Ministère de la Culture,
le Ministère de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche,
le Ministère de l'Europe et des Affaires étrangères

Desiderata of the object: emergent meaning and conservation after the material turn

Annika Finne 1, Emily Frank 2

Institute Of Fine Arts, New York University / Modern Art Conservation - New York (United States), 2 Institute For Study Of The Ancient World, New York University / American Academy in Rome - Rome (Italy) / Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum - New York (United States)

Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

When the vibrant green glaze copper resinate is used to paint the leaves of a tree, the resin salts may slowly oxidize, and eventually cause the color of the painted leaf to shift from green to brown. Like a real tree, the painted tree can, with time and in response to its levels of light exposure, present the semblance of a pseudo-autumn through this “deterioration.” Does the fact that these leaves “died” outside the approval of their initial artist-author mean that there is no discursive space in which their brownness, and all of its attendant affects, can be appreciated? If, after the color-shift, a later hand overpainted the leaves that changed “on their own” to make them green again, what would be gained, what would be lost, and is this overpainter a conservator, or something else? In this way, is the “material turn” also an occasion to rethink what is meant by the job of “conservator” or “restorer”?

This session aims to highlight how a work of art’s materials and manufacture techniques can shape subsequent efforts to preserve, cultivate, or modify those artworks, on both physical and conceptual levels. Consider the tea bowl repaired with gold lacquer by Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558- 1637), whose mended cracks are celebrated for their resemblance to a snowy mountainscape, or the abrasion pattern, described by Matthew Hayes, which until recently gave a cool, bright sky painted by Titian the appearance of a sunset. We seek to draw attention to case studies such as these—where interventions (or non-interventions) seem a specific form of collaboration or call-and-response between the object and its procession of handlers, rather than the imposition of a new, renewed, or improved identity onto a passive artwork. The session is meant to be a bridge across the narratives produced by the technical analysis of materials, the history of conservation and restoration, and the anthropological, sociological, and art historical methods of appreciating material agencies. We draw inspiration from both artistic and scholarly work, by authors including Arjun Appadurai, Sanchita Balachandran, Karen Barad, Jill Bennett, Marco Ciatti, Anne Dunlop, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Jonathan Hay, Herbert Kessler, Bruno Latour, George Lewis, Paolo and Laura Mora, Gala Porras-Kim, Amy Knight Powell, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Yuriko Saito, and Marvin Trachtenberg.