Contemporary Collections: Preprints from the AICCM National Conference 17th g 19th October 2007 Brisbane pp. 12-24
While documentation is often considered to be one of the more mundane duties of the conservator, it is an important practice because it forms the foundation upon which decisions relating to the conservation of artworks and artefacts are made. Good documentation provides a reference with which to measure change and is used as a basis to formulate and carry out treatments. The evolving nature of modern and contemporary artwork, in particular installation art, requires that documentation strategies change and adapt in order to remain relevant and useful. The standard condition report with one or two reference photographs is not necessarily the best or only approach to documenting artworks. Strategies for documenting composite artworks such as installations requires a more thorough and detailed approach due to the unique and complex nature of each artwork. These artworks are often grand in scale, constructed of unusual materials, and require involved assembly and installation.
This paper endeavours to present the Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art (QAG|GoMA) Sculpture Conservators’ approach to documenting installation artworks with reference to decision making, practical tools and methods used to carry out documentation. Background on the QAG|GoMA collection and case studies demonstrating the methods that have been developed and rationales for decision making are also covered.