The Challenge of Open Source for Conservation

Published on October 10th, 2015


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This issue of Revista de História da Arte offers updated and expanded versions of a selection of the papers presented in the conference, and a few additional contributions. The aim is to provide acess to current research by exploring the many aspects associated with documenting contemporary art and focusing on problematic issues identified and discussed by researchers from major institutions in Europe and the USA whose mission is to collect, exhibit and disseminate knowledge about contemporary art.

Published in Performing Documentation in the Conservation of Contemporary Art
edited by Lúcia Almeida Matos, Rita Macedo and Gunnar Heydenreich (Lisbon, Instituto de História da Arte, 2015:124-132)

Performing Documentation in the Conservation of Contemporary Art is the title of the international conference held in Lisbon, in June 2013. This issue of Revista de História da Arte offers updated and expanded versions of a selection of the papers presented in the conference, and a few additional contributions. The aim is to provide acess to current research by exploring the many aspects associated with documenting contemporary art and focusing on problematic issues identified and discussed by researchers from major institutions in Europe and the USA whose mission is to collect, exhibit and disseminate knowledge about contemporary art.

The variety of topics and issues addressed shows how vast, complex and diversified the fields of theory and practice of documentation as a strategy for preserving contemporary art are. It underlines the continuing need for museums, collectors and universities to join resources to make sure that future generations may experience and understand our contemporary artistic expressions and that what is documented and preserved is the “real thing”, while making allowances for change, opening space for reinterpretation, ensuring the possibility of presentation in different contexts, providing access and promoting public participation in the process.

 

The Challenge of Open Source for Conservation 

In this chapter the main focus is on artists who create their work by applying open source strategies. Such artists work according to a specific mentality, while practicing art in ways that move beyond the object and stress the processual characteristics of todays network cultures. Exploring a way to comprehend such open practices in this article I address the consequences of such practices for conservation. In other words, what challenges arise when an artwork, or parts of it, can be copied, used, presented, and distributed freely and by everyone? While exploring the ideology of open source by analysing the artwork Naked on Pluto, I argue for a conservation practice that builds upon the idea of the “processual,” which stresses the value of distribution and development through which knowledge and practices survive. In the end, I will focus on how these artworks might influence the role of the conservator.


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