The Explicit Material

Inquiries on the intersection of curatorial and conservation cultures


The Explicit Material gathers varied perspectives from the discourse 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 build heritage—may undergo: changing contexts, changing matter, changing interpretations and display. Focusing on the vibrant materiality of objects during their lives, 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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Biographical Note

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.

Table of contents

Contributors: Katharina Ammann, Francesca G. Bewer, Judit Bodor, Thea Burns, Birgit Cleppe, Paul Eggert, Hanna B. Hölling, David Lowenthal, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Elisabeth Pye, Dawn V. Rogala, Anna Schäffler.


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.