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Subject: Certification


From: Ron Barbagallo <ronbarba>
Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2003
The Root of Certification

Finally had time to read through some of the postings online. Not
surprised to see some of the regulars positioning themselves center
stage again. And also not surprised to see the topic discussed in
the minutia, rather than in the broad strokes--or more clearly--in
the root cause: why members *feel* the need for certification.
Flights of ego disguised as validation; the insecurities of many
members in the field manifest itself in some of the most laborious
and all too often negative pursuits.

But to be concise, certification as far as I can see it will alter
the meaning of the AIC from a group about professionals working in
the field to a narrower group of professionals who have graduated
programs and/or are steeped in the politics of the group. Seeking
"like material" members will create an Aryan feel to the
organization. It has less to do with aiding the public and more to
do with the way the members of the group feel about each other. And
to that point, each member should think very seriously on their
motives. Envy and competitiveness may be human nature but it does
nothing to actually elevate one's place in an industry. The attempt
seems almost Salieri like; and he ultimately was not able to
eradicate anyone's appreciation of Mozart's abilities.

I have found that work, research and accomplishment are the best
ways to actualize one's self. Telling people what to do with their
art objects is hard enough. Trying to tell our peers what to do with
their practices will not erase the competition or elevate the low
self esteem of any of the group's members for any great period of
time. In the end you will find as you tighten your hand to gain
control--what you sought to gain will fall through your fingers. And
as you close a door to working professionals who may fall out of
your area of personal preference, you will be opening an entire new
door of problems which includes taking on the legal responsibility
for the implications of a certified group. After all the group was
created for those who possessed an interest in conservation, not as
University program that handed out degrees.

As it stands now the AIC already has a juried process where a
professional can elect for themselves to have a higher standing in
the group. It is flawed and has double standards but is a mirror of
the entire industry at any given time. Certification will not erase
bad conservators or bad restorers or the people who prefer to use
their services. It will not insure the protection of all artwork
either as there are poor technicians with and without an academic

What certification will do is avert valuable time and resources from
work in the field and in unforeseen ways leave the AIC open for
litigation from malpractice and discrimination. It will also
officially mark the time and place in history when the AIC becomes a
group where having an academic pedigree formally gives members with
less drive an excuse to look down on those having done actual work
in the field, many of those whose innovations and hard work were the
basis of your academic study.

Tell yourself what you want to hear, but certification is not for
the public who really don't need anyone to think for themselves; it
is for members within the group looking to use their insecurities
and prejudice as a way to elevate the way they *feel* about
themselves. A quick fix which won't make anyone more accomplished
but will ultimately limit the potential of the group and its

If certification is passed, the decision for current members of the
AIC becomes either wanting to be part of a group that presumes to be
this self important or to continue one's work in an arena where if a
tree falls in the forest, it is not necessarily pivotal that a
"certified" conservator's ear be there to note if the tree's falling
made a sound or not.

Ron Barbagallo
Director/Conservator of Art, Animation Art Conservation
Animation Art Advisor, Animation Magazine

                  Conservation DistList Instance 16:41
                Distributed: Wednesday, January 8, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-16-41-003
Received on Wednesday, 8 January, 2003

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