Online Symposium: Contemporary Art Conservation Revisited: 20 Years Later

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Thursday, 27 January, 2022 to Friday, 28 January, 2022


In 2001, the first students graduated in a new specialty at the Bern University of the Arts' conservation training program: Conservation of Modern Materials and Media. As a precursor in the field, the specialty's launch was a response to changing contemporary artists' practices and a commitment to the preservation of artworks outside traditional disciplines, embodying unconventional technologies and materials. The necessity of a different approach to care for and treat these works of art is reflected in its curriculum, incorporating methodologies and techniques from social sciences, revisiting the importance of documentation, and establishing the significance of artistic concepts within a decision-making process.

Looking back at the last 20 years, we see shifts in the field of contemporary art conservation, which compel us to (re)define its role, questioning existing structures and modes of operating: What is a conservator of contemporary art today? What is their skillset, and has it changed over the years? What are the types of roles contemporary art conservators fulfil? How inclusive is this discipline and who has access to it? Did the discipline's approach or areas of research shift during the years? Which new research topics have emerged? How can an institution benefit from conservators being part of the team and facilitating processes of acquisition, artist engagement, and research? And what, if we look more closely, hinders these developments in our institutions?

This two-day symposium aims to examine and debate these questions, hoping to inspire dialog between stakeholders.

The symposium has been postponed and will be held virtually on Jan 27 & 28, 2022.

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