SPECIAL ISSUE #1
We are delighted to salute the return of ArtMatters with our first Special Issue: Expanding Notions of ‘Making’ for Contemporary Artworks. The papers present work from an interdisciplinary group of both early stage researchers and established scholars, who critically examine the implications of an expanded notion of making for the custodianship and perpetuation of a wide range of contemporary artworks. All papers are published open access and after peer review.
We are grateful to all the authors and the fantastic team of editors, Brian Castriota, Zoë Miller, Gunnar Heydenreich, Dominic Paterson and Erma Hermens, and to Brian and Zoë in particular for taking care of all the correspondence in addition to their excellent editing work. A special thank you is extended to the NACCA early stage researchers who collaborated closely and enthusiastically with the editors and peer reviewers to present this important set of papers.
In the spirit of this Special Issue, we hope that our readers will enjoy and share these papers, which we are publishing open access in the hope that the inspiring and thought-provoking work contained in this issue will reach an ever-wider audience.
Erma Hermens, Paola Ricciardi
and Moorea Hall-Aquitania
This first ArtMatters Special Issue presents papers based on presentations from two symposia organised in 2017 by the University of Glasgow and in 2018 by the Cologne University of Applied Sciences, as part of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) New Approaches in the Conservation of Contemporary Art (NACCA, 2015–2020). NACCA comprises
a training network of 15 early stage researchers working with and supervised by conservation professionals (technical) art
historians, heritage scientists and curators from 10 partner institutions, both universities and museums, and spread over six European countries: The Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom.
The symposium Material Futures: Matter, Memory and Loss in Contemporary Art Production and Preservation (28–30 June 2017, University of Glasgow) was followed in 2018 by From Different Perspectives to Common Grounds in Contemporary Art Conservation (25– 26 June, Cologne University of Applied Sciences). The papers presented here were contributed by the ITN’s early stage researchers and other (keynote) speakers both from within and without the NACCA network.
Expanding Notions of ‘Making’ for Contemporary Artworks examines critical issues related to the often protracted and distributed making of contemporary artworks, within and alongside their care, conservation and display.
The contributors draw upon diverse theoretical frameworks from anthropology to ethnography, organisational theory, semiotics, sociology, gender studies, feminist theory and new materialism, among others. They critically examine the implications of an expanded notion of making for the custodianship and perpetuation of contemporary artworks.
Across the various contributions, the authors reflect on the processes of knowledge production that surround the making and conservation of contemporary art. The papers consider how this produced and synthesised knowledge informs our sense of the artworks’ identities, and how these identities are not static or absolute but mediated, situated and often closely connected to the processes of (re)making and the artworks’ materiality. These expanded ideas of knowledge-making and identity formation in relation to contemporary art objects are also explored in the context of the actors and networks that enable their continuation,
revealing the negotiated and contingent nature of their objecthood.
Drawing upon neurology and semiotics to consider the ways memories are formed and retained, Tiziana Caianello explores the notion of collective memory in relationship to conservation and how memories may be overwritten. Brian Castriota positions queer theory and post-structuralist discussions of identity in relationship to contemporary art conservation and examines how artwork identity is performatively reified and ruptured in the museum. Marta Garcia Celma provides a framework for exploring the situatedness of understandings of value and authenticity, and how differing values are attributed and potentially reconciled in conservation decision-making. Drawing on infrastructure theory, Iona Goldie-Scot explores how the extended realms of the making of performance-based artworks test traditional notions of the art object and force new dependencies for care within and beyond the museum.
Rebecca Gordon challenges the notion of the artist’s interview as a ‘recipe’ and considers the ways in which knowledge is produced and synthesised using organisational theory’s ‘spiral of knowledge’. Hanna Hölling interrogates the temporal logic of the museum, drawing on continental philosophy and the theme of museums both as sites of revival and death. Based on feminist epistemologies, Hélia Marçal explores how knowledge is situated culturally and historically and considers how this bears upon the politics and ethics of conservation. Zoë Miller proposes a more flexible view of legal instruments and contracts in the
conservation of contemporary art that reflects an understanding of artistic authorship as ongoing and negotiated.
Examining networks of social and political engagement in the ongoing activation of ATSA’s participatorial artworks, Ariane Noël de Tilly argues that it is more productive to focus on the socialisation of these works rather than their material traces. Embracing both pluralism and ambiguity, Nina Quabeck uses the ethnographic concept of the messy text to describe the collaboration between artist and museum in the care of complex installations. Artemis Rüstau proposes the notion of the relational site, which
recognises the underexplored role of the artist-collector relationship in the creation and custodianship of site-specific artworks. Borrowing concepts from anthropology to expand understandings of artwork identity as multiple, Cailtin Spangler-Bickell proposes a new vocabulary for artwork biographies. Aga Wielocha interrogates the concept of the document in contemporary art and argues that art objects themselves can be seen as documents on an equal footing with other artwork-related documentation.
She explores what this proposition entails for understandings of value for the object and its documentation.
We thank our partners from NACCA, the European Union H2020 Programme for financial support, and the team Archetype Publications for their excellent work and smooth collaboration to make this publication possible.
We are grateful to ArtMatters for providing an interdisciplinary open access platform for this publication.
Brian Castriota, Erma Hermens, Gunnar Heydenreich, Zoë Miller and Dominic Paterson
Editors Special Issue #1
The NACCA programme was coordinated by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network NACCA was funded by the European Union H2020 Programme (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2014) under Grant Agreement n°642892.