Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Graffiti in the streets around Tahrir Square - the voice of the revolution

New graffiti started appearing around  Tahrir Square after the revival of the protests and tell a very informative version of what has been going on in Egypt in the last few months. 

Image from the blog Suzeeinthecity

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Art sold as scrap metal - the empty plinth of Barbara Hepworth's 'Two Forms'

Images from the BBC website
I wonder what we should call the theft of 'Two Forms', a bronze sculpture by Barbara Hepworth,  on open display at Dulwich Park until yesterday. It has been reported that the piece was probably stolen to be sold as scrap metal! This is not only vandalism, or crime - it is got to be called something else!
Hepworth was very keen on having people interacting with her sculptures, and thought some of them looked as invitations to climb. Somehow, this makes the theft even more depressing.
I wonder how much these very clueless vandals/criminals  will make. Perhaps they were enticed by the fact the sculpture is insured for £500,000. The bad news for them is that it is only worth all that much as ART, not metal.

See more  on the BBC or  the Guardian

Thursday, 15 December 2011

'Writing about conservation', new article on the Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies

Take a look at the latest article published on JCMS.
The new piece was written by Allan J. Hogg, one of the JCMS creators and now an instructor at the Sweetland Center for Writing (University of Michigan). In this really useful article Hogg gives guidance on how to write a good scientific conservation text. 
Hogg is part of the JCMS editorial board and will be writing regularly. Don't miss his articles if you sometimes find it difficult to write about conservation! 

Monday, 12 December 2011

Did Robert Brownjohn vandalize his own design?

Image from the New York Times 

If he did it was very successful! 
Brownjohn designed many famous pieces including the opening titles of 'Goldfinger' (1964) and the cover of Rolling Stone's 'Let it bleed'. For the latter he photographed a stack of round objects for the front cover, played with them and then presented their vandalized version on the back cover. 
If you have deep pockets you may be interested to know that part of his work is about to be auctioned in London. But if your pockets are not that deep then wait for the 200 pieces recently acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in NY to go on display!
Read more on the New York Times 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Are they the same?

By S.J.

This poster challenges common perceptions of rock art and graffiti. Many people think of modern graffiti as vandalism, and rock art as a high form of expression. Rock art and graffiti share numerous characteristics and themes often overlooked, especially by the media.

Target audience: Visitors to a museum to a related exhibit of graffiti or rock art.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The Nude in all its Glory… and Shame

By S. Vasiliou

This poster aims to highlight the physical implications that conflicting socio-cultural and socio-political views have on works of art, focusing particularly on nude works in the 19th century. It presents examples of damage and alterations carried out, on statues and paintings, as a result of evolving philosophies, and explains why such actions should be defined as vandalism.
Target audience: Students studying conservation, art history and fine art.

Norwegian Black Metal & The Fantoft Stave Church Burning

By M. De Thabrew
This poster explores the role of those involved in the Black metal music movement and the Fantoft church burning in Norway through an interdisciplinary approach grounded in conservation issues. The poster provides an historical context of Norway and the significance of stave churches as cultural heritage and how this created conflict in the 1990s. This poster provides a contemporary case study for conservation students to draw many ideas from and provoke debate regarding vandalism.
Target audience: Conservation Students

The London Blitz: preventive and remedial conservation of cultural heritage

E. Bocaege

Damage to cultural heritage has received considerable attention in relation to its impact on society and potential use as a propaganda tool highlighting the “barbarity of the enemy”. In this poster, I consider preventive conservation measures taken in Britain before the Blitz, the extent of the damage caused by bombing and fire during the war and the consequent remedial conservation of museum collections in London, with a special focus on specimens from the Hunterian collection at the Royal college of Surgeons. Acknowledgments to Dr. Sam Alberti, Hunterian Museum director, for guidance and for allowing me to use images of the Museum.
Target audience: It will be particularly useful for visitors to the Hunterian Museum, but could provide an insight into the history of conservation for any museum visitor in London.

Rewriting History: A Look at Vandalism in 18th-Dynasty Egypt

C. Cutulle

In history as today, vandalism is an act imbued with meaning. This is certainly true of two 18th-Dynasty Egyptian examples—that of the Pharaohs Hatshepsut and Akhenaten. Hatshepsut’s rise to power as king was at the expense of her young stepson—the rightful Pharaoh. Years after her death, vandalism in the form of the removal of any references or images associated with Hatshepsut’s kingship is evident. Akhenaten’s striking religious reforms landed him the same fate. Through analysis, we are able to ascertain the desired result of this vandalism: rewriting Egyptian history to include only that which was orthodox.

Target audience: Audience specifically educated in the liberal arts such as art, history, archaeology, anthropology, etc.

Have you Seen This Monument?

By L.C. Stephens
See a larger version here
This poster is about the dangers of politically motivated destruction of monuments. Public monuments constitute part of our cultural identity teach us about our values and ideals. They must be able to be accessed by the public if they are to serve their main function which is to educate and memorialize aspects of our history for better or for worse.
Target audience: General Public

Kiss of death? Understanding the Vandalism of the Berlin Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under the National Socialist Regime

By S. Thomson
This display explores a string of vandalism in 2008 at the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under the National Socialist Regime in Berlin’s Tiergarten park. The poster identifies the events and probes the roots of homophobia in contemporary Germany. Many thanks to the memorial’s artists, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston director Bill Arning.
Target audience: This poster would be displayed before the memorial as a supplement to the current plaque that details the history of persecution of homosexuals from 1935 onward.
S. Thomson will discuss details on why he decided to pursue 'Kiss of death' below. He will also tell us some really interesting details of his research.

Why do vandals strike? Be ready to act! A practical guide for heritage professionals

By A.M. Klups
Vandalism is one of the main threats to museum collections and historic buildings, and the problem cannot be undermined. Through communicating the topic and making heritage professionals aware of key ideas about how to ‘look for vandals in the crowd’, and how to understand the motivations of different types of vandals causers, many cases can be dealt with before damage occurs.
Target audience: The audience the poster is aimed at are heritage professionals and generally people employed in historic buildings and museums which admit visitors.

Safeguarding your local cemetery

By R.K. Burke
Raising awareness of the detrimental factors affecting cemeteries today including agents of deterioration and causes of deliberate damage. Promoting discussion and demonstrating the issues representing the concerns of the stakeholders and mourners. Recognising the significance of cemeteries as cultural heritage sites for their historic, social, architectural, and environmental values. Provide advice for local communities on developing effective management strategies for the preservation of the historic environment of cemeteries for future generations.
Target audience: Local communities, concerned stakeholders, Friends societies/charities for cemeteries, Local Authorities and interested scholars (conservators, archaeologists, local historians etc.).

Vandalism through destruction and construction

By C.T.
For centuries cultural vandalism has been taking place in Saudi Arabia under the guise of religion and urban development. Today this is no more evident than in Mecca, the holiest city for more than a billion Muslims worldwide. Historical sites surrounding the Grand Mosque have been demolished and replaced by skyscrapers housing high priced hotels, luxury apartments and shopping malls.
Target audience: Members of UNESCO

Ai Weiwei: Vandal?

By L. Stewart

Ai Weiwei is a Chinese contemporary artist whose works frequently involve ceramics. His destruction of ancient pieces raises questions about authenticity and value while engaging with Chinese history. When considering his body of work and the questions he raises, does his unique form of destruction make him a vandal? If it does, does the term necessarily hold a negative connotation?
Target audience: This poster is designed for an academic audience in a conference setting, ideally regarding modern or non-Western art.
L. Stewart will comment on her ideas and on why she decided to pursue this topic below.

Cultural Extension or Vandalism

By H.H.

See a larger version here

This poster attempts to depict and communicate a sense of conflict, which is caused by the cultural memorial heritage and modern function of Forty-four South Village. Even if the some of the villages are conserved by the reconstruction and regeneration project of the Military Dependents’ Villages in Taiwan, the new facilities present an asymmetry phenomenon against the original significance of the heritage. And the phenomenon thus triggers the theme of the open lecture for teachers on vandalism issue.
Target audience: Senior high schools’ teachers in History or Art

 H.H. will discuss her motivations to design this poster, and her creative process below.

Who Owns What: Nazi-Art Looting and the Question of Restitution

By S.N.

Nazi-looted art continues to be a controversial topic for museums in the present day. Museum Trustees and Directors should be aware of the provenance of their collections, and if they are the owners of stolen goods from Jewish victims, they should follow the numerous different professional and ethical codes presented by international societies, governments, and organizations.
Target audience: Museum Trustees and Directors, particularly in European countries

S.N. will comment on her topic and creative process below.

Vandalism caused through conflict – what happens next?

By F. Needham

Vandalism, especially when caused by conflict, causes lasting consequences to cultural heritage. Two case studies, namely the Bamiyan Buddhas and the Meroë Head/Head of Augustus, provide examples inflicted in modern and ancient times respectively. They also demonstrate that the damage caused varies, as while the Bamiyan Buddhas suffered destruction, the head ironically survived.
Target audience: The poster is designed to inform undergraduate archaeology students about the topic, as they do not necessarily know what the consequences of vandalism are when it comes to conservation of cultural heritage. It also might serve to interest them in conservation as a field of study after completing their archaeology degree.

Images of the Bamiyan Buddhas are sourced from Prof. A. Gruen ETH Zurich, and images of the Meroë head © Trustees of the British Museum.

Stop Cultural Vandalism

By D. Draudt

My poster is aimed to garner international support for Moscow's threatened architectural heritage and timed to coincide with the Royal Academy exhibition, Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935.

Target audience: Visitors of the Royal Academy exhibition Building the Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915 - 1935, Royal Academy students and occasional general public.

Reverse Graffiti: vandalism? or rather a 'clean' way to advertise outdoors without causing any damage?

By M. Orsini

The aim of the poster is to illustrate the advantages of using reverse-graffiti as substitute to posters to advertise outdoors in a more conscious way, and without damaging surfaces or defacing urban landscapes/environment. It also plays with a certain dual identity of graffiti, which, through this usage may switch from being considered vandalism to being a possible response to 'corporate advertising vandalism', as such also causing us to question our very preconceptions regarding the nature of vandalism.
Target audience: City councils and companies who practice 'street branding'

Neglect: The Silent Vandalism

By A. Seadler

While the term vandalism conjures images of deliberate destruction of our heritage sites, this poster seeks to inform its audiences that the neglect of these sites is equally damaging. Although neglect may cause the loss of our historic treasures, it is preventable through individual and community initiatives. Target audience: Non-specialist, general public in the United Kingdom or the United States

A. Seadler will comment on her creative process below.

Don’t Write Me Off: Understanding Street Art

By D. Kuh Jakobi

While advocates perceive street art as a method of reclaiming public space, an uncensored forum for relevant socio-political commentary, or a method in which to display one’s art, opponents regard it as an unwanted nuisance, or as vandalism requiring expensive repair of the damaged property. Rather that viewing street art as random, pointless, or destructive, I hope to provide the tools with which to better analyze and appreciate the motives and art of street art.
Primary: art historians, urban historians, and sociologists (as well as students of these subjects) Secondary: city council members, building conservators, architects, and urban developers Additional: street art aficionados, connoisseurs, and collectors, as well as contemporary art gallery owners, curators, and street artists themselves
 D. Kuh Jakobi will comment on her creative process below.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Shakespeare Window. “What light through yonder window breaks?” “Ay, ay, a scratch. Marry, ‘tis enough”

By S. Rowe
The purpose of the poster was to use the Shakespeare Window to explore and challenge visitor ideas of what constitutes “vandalism” and to suggest why we occasionally deem some acts of vandalism as a positive addition to an object or place, as opposed to negative. In particular it questions how age, authorship and intention of the vandalism play a role in how we perceive it. Many thanks to Ann L Ethelridge for the use of her photos.
Target audience: Visitors to Shakespeare’s birthplace and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s exhibition space.

S. Rowe will discuss details on why she decided to pursue 'The Shakespeare window' below. She will also tell us some really interesting information she found during her research. 

Vandalism or Free Speech?

By J. Westbrook

This poster is meant to provide a starting point for discussing how to deal with contested heritage, by using US Confederate Monuments as an example. How should heritage professionals deal with graffiti and vandalism? Should we remove the monument? Should we leave the graffiti? How do we work to best represent all interests? Credit to the KFVS12 News website for providing the photos and news story about the monument in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Target audience: Heritage professionals (conservators, National Park Service officials, etc)

J. Westbrook, the author of this poster, will write about her motivations and creative process below. 

The Richard Serra Skate Park": Progressive Art Vandalized by Regressive Policy

By K.L.M. Becker

The poster uses two specific cases to illustrate instances of vandalism that have occurred in the public sphere by governing officials. The aim is to increase public awareness of the purposeful destruction of art and to encourage greater acceptance of conceptual art. The two cases presented are Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc (1981) and Crocheted Olek’s crocheted Charging Bull (2010); both art site specific, outdoor public works in New York City.

K.L.M. Becker, the author of this poster, will comment on her motivations to pursue this topic below. 

Vandalism of cultural heritage

If you follow this blog you probably know that I am very interested in the subject of vandalism and how different actions are perceived differently by different groups. It seems obvious to me that waging a war against vandalism is pretty useless if we keep  oversimplifying the underlying motivations and our understanding of these 'interventions'. In that regard, I am particularly interested in the messages embedded within different actions and what they 'tell' about the contexts where they occur. 

As part of the activities of the research networks 'Conservation & Development' and 'Ethnography of Archaeology' (see participants at the bottom) we started discussing some of these issues and decided to organize  a series of events to explore them with cross-disciplinary approaches and under different lights. 

The first step was to propose this  as the topic for an exercise in communicating conservation to the students of one of my courses at the Institute of Archaeology. You can see the proposal and the results here.

The students identified, examined and discussed an aspect of vandalism of their choice, various of which I had never considered. From today on, we will be posting and discussing some of these posters here. You should take your time to look at them, it is really amazing work! Hopefully we will be able to provoke some enlightening (and much needed) debate using the posters as a starting point. 

Colleagues involved in 'Conservation & Development' discussion focused on vandalism (so far): 
Ian Carroll, Dimitris Chatgiannis, Anne-Marie Deisser, Monika Harter, Jessica Johnson, Theano Moussouri, Corinna Riva,  Anastasia Sakellariadi & Carmen Vida. 

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