In the field of contemporary art conservation, the artist interview is one of the most essential methods to obtain information on used materials and techniques, work biographies, and the artists’ positions regarding presentation and preservation strategies. Despite the increasing number of publications on artist interviews, significant information on the procedure is still underrepresented and the time needed for the post-processing is commonly underestimated. In addition, artist interviews are rarely published in order to avoid the violation of legal principles such as the protection of personal data and copyright laws. Many valuable sources thus remain undiscovered and out of reach for further research.
An approach to these issues is provided with the new website artemak.art by sharing knowledge of a professional implementation of artist interviews and featuring intelligent and interactive infrastructure for their publication. The website continues the work of Erich Gantzert-Castrillo, who already carried out, collected and published artist interviews since the early 1970s. The framework for the creation of the website is provided by the ESF-funded research project “artemak+X - Techniken und Materialien der modernen und zeitgenössischen Kunst” which has been running since September 2018 at the Dresden University of Fine Arts. Being both an archive and a research platform, the website offers easy and free access to reliable information (whenever possible under a Creative Commons license). The artist interviews are the core of the website, but they are complemented with biographies and picture galleries. Additional documents like conservation and analytical reports or art-historical essays may also be provided in the future.
The website enables both efficient searching for specific materials or techniques and browsing through the archive. This is made possible by a specifically created multilingual information retrieval system based on the indexation of interviews and documents with a controlled vocabulary. This allows easy filtering of the content, even if it is not provided in the preferred language. It enables the cross-linking of information, thus comparative works or artists with similar working materials or methods can easily be identified. It is open to the participation of professionals who can submit interviews and other data on artists in the original language.
Another focus of the website is the public distribution of the theoretical and practical knowledge gathered during the research project. A guide will facilitate initial training in the field of artist interviews as a research method. In addition to the preparation, implementation, and post-processing, the guide offers further helpful information on planning and realizing interviews as well as a process plan, explanations on legal requirements (for Germany) and the archiving of digital interview data.
The website artemak.art was launched in July 2021. The guide will be published soon on the website in German and English.
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