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PhD Research Variation & Interpretation. On the posthumous reinstallation of process based installation art (2017)

Name Anna Schäffler Title of research project Variation & Interpretation. On the Posthumous Reinstallation of Process Based Installation Art Affiliation Free University Berlin, Department of Art History Supervisor Professor Peter Geimer, Free University Berlin Estimated date of completion 2016-17 Previous education and/or work experience I am an art historian, independent curator, collaborator of the estate of Anna Oppermann and PhD candidate at Free University Berlin. Abstract My PhD project by the title "Preservation Through Change. On Reinstalling the Ensembles of Anna Oppermann" („Erhalten im Wandel. Zur Reinstallierung der Ensembles von Anna Oppermann“) derives from an academic research as well as my personal practical experience in reinstalling site specific artworks. Based on the case study of the posthumous handling of Oppermann´s oeuvre, the analysis pursues to establish a more general theory on reinstalling processes and installation based art works. From the late 1960s onwards, German artist Anna Oppermann created site-specific installation works consisting of found and ephemeral materials, objects, drawings and photographs. Each of her "ensembles" emerged in an accumulative and associative manner over a period of several years. Constantly re-photographed and drawn by Oppermann, the previous installations had always been integrated into the latest one, so that the genesis of the work itself in various spaces and times coexist within one presentation. After Oppermann´s death in 1993, the estate developed the method of a so-called "interpretive new installation" („Interpretierende Neuinstallation“) as an attempt to maintain the works adequately. The practices of changing the presentations and enhancing the process of accumulation have been constantly modified since then. The idea to reconstruct an original condition of the work can´t be assumed. My thesis will outline how the subsequent interpretation of the existing material and artistic concept, as well as the variation of the spatial arrangements, have called concepts like authorship, authenticity and originality into question. Notions of interpretation and variation in reference to this practice will be looked at in particular with regard to other disciplines like music and theater. As these topics are mainly discussed in the realm of conservation practices in regard to new challenges in installation art, my investigation will take into account the shifting concepts of conservation, as well as the fundamental significance of decision-making processes and the coherent increasing documentation of creative processes. Arising from this analysis, the further consequences for the discipline of art history and the understanding of a work of installation art will to be defined. E-mail anna_schaeffler@gmx.net

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