Session 1B: Challenges and Approaches in Conserving New Ink Art

Contemporary art conservators have to deal with traditional media that are presented in a non-traditional way, sometimes creating conservation dilemmas during their preservation. This presentation introduced the definition of new ink-based art, in which artists used various contemporary ways and media in their creation. Two cases studies, Xu Bing “A Book from the Sky” and Wang Dongling “the Moon over the River on a Spring Night” at the Hong Kong Museum of Art, were presented.

The high levels of illumination at the gallery (part of the artist's original intent) violated the long-term preservation of the paper scroll. Should the conservator considered reproduction or replacement as a solution in the case of Xu bing’s work? The presenter suggested preserving the conceptual authenticity of the artwork for future display was essential by making reference to using an exhibition copy of a plastic component on the 1930s design object at MoMA and the continuous replacement of adhesive tape when it failed on the artwork titled, " Doppelgarage" displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in Munich.

The second case study focused on an ephemeral Chinese calligraphy performance by famous Calligrapher Wang Dong Ling (check out more on his recent work: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fM3DvfGoLDM). The museum was focused a on traditional way of mounting and preserving the calligraphy which missed out on the other essence of the artwork (i.e. the pops and video documentation for viewers to re-experience the writing of cursive calligraphy performance). Moreover, in order to preserve video art which is facing technology obsolescence and copyright issue, multidisciplinary collaboration among other fields is required.

Last but not least, the Q&A session mediated by Tatja discussed:
T: Conservation of contemporary artwork may need multi-disciplinary approaches. Are there any partners outside your own field?
A: Yes, not only conservators but AV professionals and attorneys are needed.

T: For the calligraphy case, would it considered to reproduce the performance for future interpretation?
A: Acquisition of the video.