Restored behavior: Performing Materiality

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Restored behavior: Performing Materiality

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Title: Restored behavior: Performing Materiality
Author: Morfin, Jo Ana
Abstract: This paper reflects on the oeuvre of the Uruguayan media artist Brian Mackern and the Mexican performance practitioner Mónica Mayer as means to explore theoretical and practical challenges involved in the presentation, archivization, and preservation of variable media artworks. Drawing on a notion of materiality from a relational perspective, I will introduce the concept of unstable events as a methodology for discussing the modes of existence, continuity, circulation, and reactivation of transient and technology-related works of art. I will argue how an interdisciplinary knowledge across theoretical positions and practical approaches from the fields of Performance Studies, variable media, and artists’ transferring/reactivating strategies, might enhance the understanding about materiality of contemporary art works, thus provoking a paradigm shift over curatorial and conservation theory and practice. By exploring a definition of materiality not as fixed and “pre-given” property of an entity, but instead as relational pattern that refers to the logics in which actants interact, the roles they perform, and the relations they establish, this paper suggests that materiality is an act that may be performed over and over again. As a result, conservators may be able to “perform materiality” as means to “restore behaviour” of vanishing artworks. By restoring behaviour, conservators will be able to reanimate artworks, thus triggering artistic circulation patterns within museological circuits. What implications may this notion of materiality have over the practices of collecting, exhibiting, and conserving “objects”? How do conservators and curators “perform materiality”? How variable media artworks challenge core concepts of traditional conservation theory, such as original and material authenticity?
Description: Biography: Jo Ana Morfin holds a degree in Fine Art Restoration from the Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía (ENCRyM) in Mexico City. In 2008 she obtained her Master’s degree in Curating from Sunderland University in U.K. Morfin studied her PhD at the department of Drama: Theatre, Film and Television in Bristol University. She is currently writing her PhD thesis on “Unstable Events: Conservation and Archiving Practices within Contemporary Art” under the supervision of Paul Clarke. Since 2009, Morfin has collaborated with cultural institutions and artists for the dissemination and implementation of strategies for documenting and preserving contemporary art. In 2014 she was the curator of contents and coordinator of the Symposium on AV and Digital Preservation: Contemporary Archives, and she was the co-organiser of the International Sound and Image Conservation Course (SOIMA-ICCROM) for Latin America.
Date: 2017-10-18

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