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[BKARTS] On preservation

A few weeks back I commented that I thought that the obsession with longevity is a modern one. Ann Kronenberg responded that:


“The obsession with longevity appears to be a modern
one because it is only in modern times that new
materials have come on the market at such a fast pace,
that artists are so tempted to use them in order to
push boundaries in pursuit of the cult of the new and
different, or in an effort to save time and money, and
that artists are so poorly educated concerning the

materials that they use.”


She also referred to the work of Eva Hesse, which is disintegrating because of the materials she used.


I thought about continuing the conversation but didn’t want to appear argumentative so I let it go. However I continued to think about it and this morning I read something that brought the topic back into focus.


My initial response to Ann’s post was that she was quite right to say that modern materials have contributed to the ready demise of some art works. I don’t disagree with that. But my point (or one of them) was that if artists only stuck with tried and true materials, some wonderful art works wouldn’t have been made. And Eva Hesse is a good example of that. I’d much rather she made her fibreglass and latex works even if they are disintegrating, than that they never existed at all.


But to get to today’s reading, which I think hones in on the other point I was trying to make. In the opening pages of Martin Venezky’s ‘…it is beautiful … then gone’ (Princeton University Press, 2005) he writes “as we raise a toast to stability and preservation aren’t we silently counting our own remaining days? The art museum provides an institutional prayer that we might fight and win by simply staying put.”  


It is THIS that I think is the modern obsession with longevity – that somehow we can freeze time.


Sue Wood (in Wagga Wagga, Australia)


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