The Explicit Material

Inquiries on the Intersection of Curatorial and Conservation Cultures


The Explicit Material gathers varied perspectives from the discourses of conservation, curation and humanities disciplines to focus on aspects of heritage transmission and material transitions. The authors observe and explicate the myriad transformations that works of different kinds - manuscripts, archaeological artefacts, video art, installations, performances, film, and built heritage - may undergo: changing contexts, changing matter, changing interpretations and display. Focusing on the vibrant materiality of artworks and artefacts, The Explicit Material puts an emphasis on objects as complex constructs of material relations. By so doing, it announces a shift in sensibilities and understandings of the significance of objects and the materials they are made of, and on the increasingly blurred boundaries between the practices of conservation and curation.

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Hanna B. Hölling, Ph.D., is Lecturer in Art History and Material Studies at the UCL’s Department of History of Art and Research Professor at the Bern University of the Arts. She has published on the subject of time, archive, change and materiality in artworks and objects of material culture.

Francesca G. Bewer, Ph.D., is Research Curator for Conservation and Technical Studies Programs and Director of the Summer Institute for Technical Studies in Art at the Harvard Art Museums. She has published on the technology of bronze sculpture and on the history of conservation.

   Katharina Ammann, Ph.D., is head of department and member of the management board of the Swiss Institute for Art Research (SIK-ISEA) in Zurich. She has published on video art and been a museum curator for Swiss and contemporary art.
Hanna Hölling

List of Figures
Introduction: Material Encounters
Hanna B. Hölling, Francesca G. Bewer, and Katharina Ammann

Part 1: Time and Change in Material and Object Inquiries

1 A Sea-Change Rich and Strange
David Lowenthal

2 The Present, the Past, and the Material Object
Paul Eggert

3 Engaging with Materials Telling the Whole Story
Elizabeth Pye

Part 2: Explicating the Performative: Material, Medium, Object

4 The ‘Extended Life’ of Performance Curating 1960s Multimedia Art in the Contemporary Museum
Judit Bodor

5 Framing Intention Presentation as Preservation Strategy in Video Art
Katharina Ammann

6 Out of the Box Preservation on Display
Anna Schäffler

7 The Louvre on Celluloid Curating, Disseminating, and Preserving the Louvre’s Collections in Mid-Twentieth-Century Art Documentaries
Birgit Cleppe

Part 3: The Making and Unmaking of Objects and Myths

8 The Material Forms of the Past and the ‘Afterlives’ of the Compositiones variae Recovering, Conserving, and Exhibiting the Personal History of an Early Medieval Manuscript
Thea Burns

9 Would You Like That With or Without Mayo? How Interdisciplinary Collaboration Slows the Spread of Popular Misconceptions in Modern Art Scholarship
Dawn V. Rogala

Part 4: Transitions

10 Materials, Objects, Transitions Jorge Otero-Pailos in Conversation with Hanna Hölling

All interested in the dynamic and changeable materiality of artworks and cultural artefacts and how the physical, human, and institutional environments continue to shape them.
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