Reflections on the artist interview and the conservator's point of view by example of Ger van Elk
The artist interview: for conservation and presentation of contemporary art: guidelines and practice
Jap Sam Books
Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
Ger van Elk is regarded as a conceptual artist, although the relationship between the material execution and the concept contributes
significantly to the final work of art. He creates painterly or sculptural artworks and installations in which photography,
film and video are incorporated in an unconventional way. His work became internationally known when he participated in high-profile
exhibitions, such as Op losse schroeven and When Attitude Becomes Form in 1969. Soon after this he worked in Los Angeles,
together with Bas Jan Ader, where he took up the medium of photography for the first time in order to visualise his ideas.
The significance of his work lies in a visual play involving the relationship between artwork and reality, in which the traditions
and the mechanism of representation in art are examined. The quality of the image must be perfect to obtain the intended effect,
but due to the degradation of the photographic material this is often no longer the case. Therefore, the core of the conservation
problem of his work is whether photographic components should be replaced and if so, in which manner this should be done.
This is problematic since the photographs are incorporated in three-dimensional structures and have been painted on as well,
which makes it clear that these are unique works that cannot simply be reproduced.
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