Track 4: This New World: Preservation technology and emerging issues within our historic buildings and built landscapes
4 - 'Reversible Monuments: Historic Environment as Contemporary Medium'
Wednesday, September 26
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Mary Kay Judy
Mary Kay Judy- Architectural & Cultural Heritage Conservation
"Reversible Monuments: Historic Environment as Contemporary Medium," will provide an overview of the project which has focused on the increasing phenomenon of contemporary artists using historic architecture, features, infrastructure, and streetscapes as the primary artistic medium of their work, as opposed to solely places of art installation or exhibition.
By their nature, "Reversible Monuments" have a strong conservation and historic preservation component, as the works are designed to be temporary, reversible and designed in such a way that no materials, or means and methods- will leave a lasting impact - and all inevitably highlight the historic resource's most enduring and significant features.
The resulting works to date have been powerful in challenging the public by expanding familiar and pre-conceived ideas about a historic building or site, and prompting the viewer to reconsider and reframe the site's history and narrative. At the same time, in utilizing site-specific historic resources as a medium, they have inevitably highlighted the most relevant issues of historic preservation, including conservation, sustainability, curatorial management, economic impact and advocacy.
Select case studies include: Olafur Eliasson Studio's "The New York City Waterfalls" (2008); Tatzu Nishi's "Discovering Columbus" (2012); JR's "Unframed" (2014); Fujiko Nakaya's "Veil" (2014); Waldemart Klyuzko's "Home East" (2015); and Melissa McGill's "Constellation" (2015); Amanda Browder's "Spectral Locus" (2016); Yayoi Kusama's "Dots Obsession – Alive, Seeking for Eternal Hope" (2016) and Ai Wei Wei's "Good Fences Make Good Neighbors" (2017). All of these select case studies were installed at protected and designated monuments and sites, including local landmarks, National Register and National Landmark sites.
Contemporary artists' interaction with historic resources via these temporary, reversible, site-specific installations offers the professional historic preservation community an untapped, unprecedented opportunity for innovative collaboration in utilizing the resources themselves, while leaving no lasting impact by means of careful material and means and methods selection.
The project "Reversible Monuments" was funded by the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). Project objectives include: 1.) Research, documentation, and cataloguing contemporary art installations using historic resources; 2.) Compilation of reversible means and methods for use in temporary work from an architectural conservation and preservation context, i.e., lighting, projections, window installations, paste-ups, fabric scrims, birds, etc. and 3.) interviews with artists, curators and commissioning contemporary arts organizations and historic site stewards.
- Upon completion, participant will be able to list case studies of contemporary artists utilizing historic resources in temporary reversible ways.
- Upon completion, participant will be able to describe the innovative materials and means and methods that contemporary artists have utilized to interact with historic resources.
- Upon completion, participant will be able to discuss the "behind the scenes" efforts and process in bringing a work to fruition by the stewards of historic landmarks and sites.
- Upon completion, participant will be able to recognize that there are collaborative opportunities between the professional preservation community and contemporary artists.