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Subject: UV protection for art installation

UV protection for art installation

From: Richard Fuller <frichard>
Date: Wednesday, September 3, 2003
Lori Arnold <woodbldg [at] aol__com> writes

>Tom Dixon <tom.dixon [at] ngv__vic__gov__au> writes
>>Devorah Sperber <devorahsperber [at] earthlink__net> writes
>>>My work will be installed in a train station (non climate controlled
>>>with heat, humidity, salt air, and dust). My medium will be 80,000
>>>spools of Coats and Clark thread. I need to find a product to spray
>>>on or brush on the thread, which will provide UV protection and make
>>>it possible to clean the thread periodically for a minimum of 10
>>>years. The thread is cotton covered polyester spun onto plastic
>>>cores. Ideally I'd like to find a coating with a satin finish  as
>>>close as possible to the satin finish of the original thread.
>>I believe the answer to this question is that the artist needs to
>>engage a professional conservator to properly research the issues of
>>preservation and display she raises and advise her. ...
>> ...
>Assuming that the recommendation " engage a professional
>conservator..." means she needs to hire a conservator, I think that
>this type of reply is unprofessional and inappropriate. As an artist
>and a conservator, this response appears exploitive and implies that
>the primary impetus for the conservator is one of profit. ...
> ...
>Why can't we simply give an artist the information he needs to
>fulfill the intent of the project? It is not our place, in the world
>of the artist, to interfere with the creation of the product.
> ...
>... An
>artist doesn't need to "collaborate" with a conservator. An artist
>needs to just be an artist. ...

Having spent several years being an artist, in addition to many more
as a conservator, I think I can safely comment that, yes, of course,
conservators should not be meddling in artistic intent. But that is
not what is being presented here--an artist, having a developed
concept, or intent if you will, for a public art installation, is
asking advice from the conservation community in how to preserve
that intent. 'Collaboration' with a conservator may represent
greater involvement than dispensing general advice but it would be
the choice of the artist to initiate this, not the conservator. How
could this be called 'interference'?

If preservation is part of the artist's intent (and this certainly
is not always the case) then the artist can call upon professionals
who provide this information. Where is the "exploitation" if a
conservator is paid for professional services? Foundries, metal
fabricators, stone, paper and paint suppliers don't work for free.
They supply materials and services for artists who cannot, or choose
not to, produce these things for themselves. There seems to be this
tired notion at that artists inhabit  some fragile, nebulous realm
of inspiration that must not be tainted by the vulgarity of
commercial culture. Although these personalities exist, it is
nonsense to presume all artists function in this manner. In physical
terms, the 'world of the artist' is the same world of the
conservator.The modern artist can use whatever materials and
services they wish (or can afford) to realize their work. It seems
to me that preservation can be a particularly important component to
art created for the public in a public space. We have to accept,
though, that all artwork will deteriorate and change over time, with
or without conservation input.

Also, if Ms. Sperber's situation is a 'simple' one then please share
the response with others on this list so we can add to our knowledge
for the benefit of future artists with similar requests. As the
contributors in the Getty Conservation article cited point out,
there should be a greater dissemination of conservation information
for the benefit of art students and professional artists.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 17:27
                Distributed: Thursday, September 4, 2003
                       Message Id: cdl-17-27-001
Received on Wednesday, 3 September, 2003

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