Conservation strategy for food-based perishable art: preservation versus reconstruction illustrated by Piece in Ghent by Jason Rhoades (1994)

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Julie Gilman; Liesbeth Jacxens; Bruno Demeulenaer;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number 1, p.3-12 (2016)


The aim of this paper was to discuss the role of food preservation science and technology in the conservation of complex food-based installations. By introducing the principles of food science and food preservation into the decision-making process for the conservation of contemporary art, more insight on conservation and presentation possibilities was created. Considering the installation Piece in Ghent (P.I.G.) by Jason Rhoades, which contains French fries, the principles of food preservation science were evaluated. The preservation of the original foods was discussed against the potential of a reproduction of the foods. The context for conservation was determined by analysing the artist's intention, the production method of the artwork, and the degradation processes of the food materials. From the results obtained, guidelines to preserve the ‘original’ foods were proposed, as well as guidelines to reproduce foods that can last longer. The study demonstrated that food preservation science contributed to the development of effective strategies for the conservation of contemporary food-based art.