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Becoming Difference: on the Ethics of Conserving the In-between

Marcal, H; (2021) Becoming Difference: on the Ethics of Conserving the In-between. Studies in Conservation 10.1080/00393630.2021.1947074. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Notions of authenticity underpinning conservation practice have been challenged by artistic and museum practices that contest the mere possibility of singular material existence of objects. These practices work within the liminal, in-between, space some objects currently occupy. But how can conservation conciliate the preservation of an object’s material manifestation, with the ethical need to recognise its other material possibilities? The ethical implications of conserving objects whose existence is contested are discussed. Drawing on feminist theory, it is argued that the path towards a fairer, inclusive, and sustainable conservation practice is dependent on the recognition of difference. The ethical ramifications that emerge from practices of conservation that reflect on performative in-betweenness, here called liminality, are explored. By demonstrating that the act of observation is always contingent, the ways we understand and conserve objects materially change them. How those changes can exclude their material possibilities and their becomings, are discussed. A possible ethical approach to conservation is proposed, that goes beyond modernist views of the object being conserved, recognising the exclusions inherent to any process of conservation, celebrating the diversity of material existences of objects we ought to protect.

Type: Article
Title: Becoming Difference: on the Ethics of Conserving the In-between
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/00393630.2021.1947074
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/00393630.2021.1947074
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Keywords: ethics, liminal, difference, becoming, modernity, contemporary art
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History of Art
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130037
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