Upcoming (June 2019): WhiteFeather’s collaborative research presented at Living Matter/ La Materia Viva, Mexico City

WhiteFeather’s collaborative work using kombucha SCOBY, in projects such as Bucci with Théo Chauvirey; Plump and Pliant with Courtney Books; and, Wastelands with Tagny Duff, will all be presented by collaborator Courtney Books in the context of her larger MA Conservation thesis research project, “Plump and pliant: experimental fluid retention for keeping formerly living biofilms life-like” (Books, 2018) at the Living Matter/ La Materia Viva conference in Mexico City.

Living Matter/ La Materia Viva

The Preservation of Biological Materials Used in Contemporary Art/
Conservación de materiales orgánicos en el arte contemporáneo

June 3-4, 2019
MUAC and ENCRyM, Mexico City

Countless artists from Marcel Duchamps, Dieter Roth, Andy Warhol, Piero Manzoni to Ed Ruscha, Anya Gallaccio, Teresa Margolles, Adrian Villar Rojas, Marta Palau and Damien Hirst have used biological materials (food, bodily fluids, plant material, etc.) in their art.

Because these materials are not only prone to rapid decay but often to putrefaction processes leading to complete disappearance, biological materials used in art pose very specific conservation problems.

Solutions to these problems can be of different natures, including: altering drastically the material’s behavior by embedding it in resin or inserting it in modified atmospheres—perhaps at the expense of some of the qualities of the work or periodically replacing parts or the whole of the work—but clear rules for the replacement have then to be established. In some cases, a work is meant to disappear, so the very act of preservation goes against the work’s intended nature. Yet another challenge is the display of these works in a museum environment might also present a preservation risk to other works of art in the same space…

Living Matter/ La Materia Viva will discuss the broad implications and challenges (conceptual, ethical, and practical) associated with collecting, displaying, and preserving contemporary works that include biological materials. It will explore how the initial intention for the work might conflict with museum policies and the ways this might impact both the nature and lifespan of the work, present a range of possible solutions through case studies, and give an overview of current thinking and practices on this topic.

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