Robert Lazarus Lane and Jessye Wdowin-McGregor – This is so contemporary? Mediums of exchange and conservation.

Wdowin-McGregor was a confident talker who brought up experience of how the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Material Conservation and the Centre of Cultural Partnership, both in Melbourne, have drawn on similar experiences of documentation, through contemporary art and more historical traditions. Both institutions needed to document performance-based installations. The authors looked into the use of conservation as a social process through interaction with multiple stakeholders. These meetings influenced the documentation process used in both institutions.

The two examples the authors drew upon are those of modern artist Sihgla and aboriginal artist Wunungmurra, both of whom believe that the museum documentation in its current form was lacking, unable to capture relevant and necessary elements of their culture or art, namely those of dance, music, performance and/or gesture. This arguably could be classed as disassociation, and has ethical issues surrounding the loss of information of a piece.

To record the processes the authors looked beyond current popular documentation methods, seeing their limitations of narrow documentation. Lazarus Lane and Wdowin-McGregor looked at performance documentation and after discussions with shareholders discovered the best possible documentation methods to fit their needs. Wdowin-McGregor concluded that all institutes need to look at how information is collected and look into expanding the type of documentation for their archives; which is something I will definitely take away from this conference, with the increasing performance-based installations in contemporary art.

Questions from the floor asked how modern museums keen on capturing statistical data for funding, would be able to use such a wide documentation range. Wdowin-McGregor expressed that as conservators, we have a powerful opportunity to choose how we record and document contemporary art, this needs to be utilized, calling this the conservator's influence. Moreover bringing performance documentation into the museum space, as an opportunity to pitch things from a different angle, e.g. ways to keep and support cultural processes whilst maintaining our ethics gives the conservator a powerful position.

Post by: Sarah Potter