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Subject: Site-specific art and conservation ethics

Site-specific art and conservation ethics

From: Lisa Mibach <perygrine>
Date: Thursday, September 2, 1993
But murals are removed all the time from their intended place (usually
for protection)...and so is other kinds of art.  Does this mean we
should never treat European paintings originally intended for a church?
This would sure knock a hole in art history!  and of course, then we
couldn't work on ethnographic objects removed from their place of
original cultural context...(which *is* a bone of some contention for
sacred objects, but those are defined as objects necessary for
ceremonies essential to the continuance of the culture of a *group*).  I
suppose we couldn't treat a steam threshing machine removed from the
field of the farmer who bought it from John Deere...but what about the
farmer who bought it second hand? There is obviously a problem of
artist's copyright, and of the contract with the owning agency, and is
also not unlike the problem of conditional donations to museums; but it
seems to me that the artist's quarrel is with the State which made the
decision, not with the technician who was hired to carry out the State's

Sounds spurious to me; creative, but spurious.

p.s. I have always found it interesting that the artists who create
ephemeral work (of inherent vice in either construction or materials)
make a great thing of wanting the art to deteriorate...until they reach
40 and have the chance at a retrospective show, at which point they come
running back to the conservators, all cooperation, asking us to save the

Lisa Mibach

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:25
                 Distributed: Friday, September 3, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-7-25-003
Received on Thursday, 2 September, 1993

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