Decision-making process and restoration work of a photographic-based artwork by Ernesto de Sousa
Keywords:Ernesto de Sousa, Photography, Mixed media, Condition assessment, Decision-making, Conservation and restoration
This paper discusses the conservation challenges posed by the mixed-media photographic artwork, Revolução, Corpo, Tempo (1978) by Ernesto de Sousa, from Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, in Portugal. Due to the artwork's poor condition and an exhibition request, a conservation intervention was needed. However, the definition of a conservation plan was challenging because of the complex and singular creative process of Ernesto and the highly deteriorated exhibition mounting. The lack of existing information led to the start of a research study and to the production of new documentation. This paper examines the gathered knowledge on Ernesto de Sousa's work and case study, and his possible position regarding the artwork’s deterioration and evolution over time – fundamental issues for decision-making in conservation. Based on visual observation, archive research, informal interviews, photo-documentation, infrared spectroscopy, and x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, this paper discusses the challenges, the methodology and the applied treatment.
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