Locating the Intermittent Work of Art (11 May 2006)
creator(s) Martha Buskirk (author)

Martha Buskirk is associate professor of art history and criticism at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts. She is author of The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art (MIT Press, 2003) and also co-editor of The Duchamp Effect (MIT Press, 1996), with Mignon Nixon, and The Destruction of Tilted Arc: Documents (MIT Press, 1990), with Clara Weyergraf-Serra. She is currently working on a new book that examines how the museum has established certain conditions of possibility for contemporary artistic practice, focusing on recent art that evokes conventions associated with the collection, souvenir, relic, and archive.

Abstract of lecture
Martha Buskirk talks in her lecture about problems involved with the presentation and conservation of the kind of art which is no longer based on ’continuously present physical objects’. These works raise questions of interpretation when they are reconfigured for a different physical space, or in case decaying or technologically obsolete elements have to be replaced. The question of what can or cannot be altered in these circumstances is often presented as a search for what is essential to the nature of the artwork. Buskirk discusses how procedures followed today, such as consulting the artist’s statement, have inherent contradictions and attempts to situate a work in the context of the artist’s development, may also obscure the interpretation. Furthermore, she states that evolving professional practices are necessarily ’prey to shifts in expectation and taste, as efforts to retrieve past works are motivated by present desires’.

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