Inside Installations: Preservation and Presentation of Installation Art

The Kröller-Müller Museum takes part in the international research project “Inside Installations: Preservation and Presentation of Installation Art” (2004-2007), supported financially by the European Union within the Culture 2000 Program. The project takes place between 2004 and 2007, and is coordinated by Instituut Collectie Nederland, and co-organized by TATE, Restaurierungzentrum Düsseldorf, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, S.M.A.K., Gent and the Stichting Behoud Moderne Kunst. The Kröller-Müller Museum has entered three case studies from the collection to be researched during the project, to be conserved, and newly installed. These are ‘One and Three Glass’ (1965) by Joseph Kosuth, ‘The wider, the flatter’ (1972) by Ger van Elk and ‘Clamp’ (1995) by Franz West. The unconventional character of these works require new ways of documentation, management, conservation, and presentation, in short, 'best practice' concerning these artforms. Exchange of information is achieved using 30 case studies, that are part of five sub-researches within the project: Preservation Strategies, Artists’ Participation, Documentation & Archiving strategies, Theory and Semantics, Knowledge Management and Information Exchange. The information will be accessible on the project's website, and through the International Network for Conservation of Contemporary Art (INCCA).


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Installation art discerns itself from traditional art in specific vulnerabilities, that depend on the context in which it is presented, as well as the technological aspects involved. To preserve this type of work in the future, the traditional approach in documentation and presentation are put to the test. One of the most difficult theoretical and practical issues in installation art is the term 'originality', especially in case of site-specific installations. Because, what is essential in determining the origin and authenticity of the work? Which parts should be preserved, which may be adjusted, and which must be remade? How to identify the 'original' work when reproducable media were used, and the artist applies parts of the original work in future installations? Even more questions arise: how to idetify 'craft' when new media were applied in contemporary art? How to identify (interactive) participation of the public when the work significantly changes over time? What is the role of the museum as mediator between the artist and the public? Another problem is the lack of general knowledge of  describing installation art. As is usual for contemporary art, new concepts are quickly introduced, and new theories are developed. This shifting semantical criterion offers a challange to the international world of conservation, that underlines the necessity of the exchange of knowledge and information.

Project coordination: Tatja Scholte - Instituut Collectie Nederland
Duration: Jun 1, 2004 - Jun 1, 2007