A seminar arranged by the National Gallery of Denmark in collaboration with The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark and supported by the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art – INCCA. November 3-4th 2008


The Conservation and Curatorial Department at the National Gallery of Denmark and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Visual Arts, was organisers of an international seminar Permanence in Contemporary Art – Checking Reality addressing various critical issues surrounding the preservation and exhibition of contemporary artworks in November 2008.

The seminar, which encouraged interdisciplinary exchange between museum professionals including conservators, art historians, artists and others, and took place in conjunction with “Reality Check”, a exhibition at the National Gallery of Denmark. “Reality Check” acted as a thematic springboard for the seminar, addressing issues related to content, material, time, exhibition and context exemplified by works in the exhibition. The seminar encouraged participation and dialogue by curators, artists and conservators alike.

The seminar aimed to contribute to the growing international professionalism and awareness associated with the preservation, installation, documentation and exhibition of contemporary artworks. The meeting provided a forum for discussing crucial questions regarding authenticity, permanence/impermanence, artistic intent, reproducibility, and longevity of artworks – issues which illustrate the paradox into which contemporary art is situated, where the idea of preserving the ‘authentic’ original material is perhaps in distinct opposition to the original concept of the artwork. Or where conversely a literal acceptance of ideas of flux and instability inherent in certain works may compromise the existence of the original material object.

Also the conservation and curatorial concerns relating to time based works and installations, which are especially challenging, were addressed.



Day 1 – Program and presentations

Morning Session:Contemporary Art – Paradoxes and Challenges
Moderator: Jørgen Wadum

Welcome and Introduction with Karsten Ohrt, Director of Statens Museum for Kunst and Mikkel Bogh, Rector of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Dr. Dirk Luckow, Director Kunsthalle zu Kiel, Germany: You can’t avoid ‘memento mori’ – Contemporary art at Kunsthalle zu Kiel

Christian Scheidemann, Senior Conservator, Contemporary Conservation, New York: Concerning the Gradual Construction of Thoughts while Speaking – an Interdisciplinary Discourse on the Process of Aging – discussing the approach of artists, conservators, historians and philosophers in regard to the aging process of non–traditional materials in contemporary art


Lunch 11.45-13.00

Afternoon session: Authenticity, History, and Reproducibility
Moderator: Ysbrand Hummelem

Joachim Koester, Artist, Denmark, New York: Drifting through the “subtle realms” – History as a dormant presence; a modest proposal for how to engage

Mikkel Bogh, Rector, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark: Preserving Perception: Ideas of Embodiment in Conceptual Art from Joseph Kosuth to Joachim Koester

Lyndsey Morgan, Conservator, Tate Modern, London, UK: The 3-D documentation of early plastic sculptures by Naum Gabo

14.40-15.10 coffee/tea break

Thea Winther, Conservator, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden: Understanding ‘Flocked’ – a case study of a Keith Sonnier latex art work from the late 1960s


Marianne Torp, curator, Statens Museums for Kunst, introduction to the special exhibition “Reality Check”. Special viewing “Reality Check” including Mike Nelson’s work Kristus och Judas: A Structural Conceit (a performance in three parts)

16.15-17.00: Viewing of exhibitions


Day 2 – Program and presentations

Tuesday November 4, 2008 at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Morning session: The Meaning of Materials in Contemporary Art and Interpreting Artistic Intent,
Part 1
. Moderator: Christine Buhl Andersen

Welcome to Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts with Mikkel Bogh, Rector of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Henrik Böetius, Associate Professor, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Denmark: Art or Work of Art? Determining the choices of materials or media and the methods applied in the process of art making. Should those choices be done solely with regard to the more temporary conceptual process or to the duration of the solid work as well?

Yvonne Shashoua, PhD, Senior Researcher, National Museum, Denmark: Plastics-the dream of the 20th Century or the nightmare of the 21st?


Lars Lundbye, Head of Innovation, 3XN: Extreme User Innovation


Lunch 11.45-13.10

Afternoon session: The Meaning of Materials in Contemporary Art and Interpreting Artistic Intent, Part 2
Moderator: Louise Cone

Christine Buhl Andersen, Director, Koege Art Museum of Sketches, Denmark: On the Preservation of Artistic Processes – The importance of preserving the artists sketches in regard to preserving their artistic intent and working process

Ysbrand Hummelen, Conservator/Senior Researcher, ICN, Netherlands: Symmetrical Approaches in the Conservation of Contemporary Art – an examination of the contemporary art work in the context of its techno-social network.


14.45-15.15 Coffee break

15.15-16.00: Panel discussion
Moderator: Mikkel Bogh

Claus Carstensen, Artist, Denmark
Louise Cone, Conservator, Statens Museum for Kunst
Marianne Torp, Art Historian/Curator, Statens Museum for Kunst

‘Wanted Dead or Alive – finding solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems in the work Æterlegeme”. An impromptu discussion with the artist about the meaning and longevity of this work, made of foam, grease, paint, urine, and paint on canvas.

Discussion and end