I’ve been invited to attend GOArt’s Research Faculty meetings this spring, and I’m really looking forward to it. The first meeting is tomorrow and will focus on a few texts about conservation: two articles by John Watson as well as the “Crafts and Conservation: Synthesis Report” from 2001 for ICCROM, the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (the report can be accessed here).
The ICCROM report caught my attention in particular, because it deals with not the conservation of craft objects but with the conservation of the crafts themselves. One point made in the report is that crafts are historically situated: the production of a certain kind of object is not the only thing that determines how crafts are practiced; there are social and cultural conditions that play a role as well. I’m used to thinking about how artefacts and technologies are socially constructed (if you will) but, of course, the work processes and structures behind them are socially shaped as well. So if we want to be precise, we should recognize that social or cultural parameters don’t shape objects directly; they shape the people and the work that produce them, and through that process, the objects themselves. I’ve thought about this issue in my dissertation, but not quite in those terms, so this will be a useful thought for my own work.
I’ll be interested to hear what the other GOArt folk have to say about the ICCROM report and the other articles from a less theoretical and more practical, restoration- and documentation-oriented perspective (I’ve been in my dissertation bubble for a long time). I’ll post a brief report after the meeting.