Anna Schäffler: The Art of Preservation

Wednesday, December 21, 2022, 17:00-18:30 CEST (online)

SNSF Performance: Conservation, Materiality, Knowledge, in collaboration with SNSF Activating Fluxus, is pleased to announce the next in the series of our Research Wednesdays. Our guest will be Dr Anna Schäffler. The event is generously supported by HKB Institute Materiality in Art and Culture.

Today’s challenges in dealing with the legacy of contemporary artists require new structural models for preservation and are leading to a radical shift of our western memory culture. Based on her own experience of working with the estate of German conceptual artist Anna Oppermann (1943-1992) Anna Schäffler argues that rather than conserve once and forever a given material state, we need new, cooperative forms of preservation that allow for the further evolution and change of a work of art in line with the artistic concept. In the wake of the dissolution of the arts in the 1960s the kind of preservation she proposes amounts to a new dissolution: Given that so-called “networks of care” take on preservation tasks leads to a profound restructuring of museums in their function as repositories of memory and reveals the instituent potential of contemporary art preservation. In elevating preservation to a condition of contemporary art, Anna suggests a radical perspective on preservation practices enabling the contemporaneity of contemporary art in the atomic age.

This lecture features a presentation of Schäffler’s recent book, Die Kunst der Erhaltung. Anna Oppermanns Ensembles, zeitgenössische Restaurierung und Nachlasspraxis im Wandel (München:  edition metzel, 2021, in German). English translation of the title: The Art of Preservation: Anna Oppermann’s Ensembles, Contemporary Conservation and Artists Estates in Transition.


Dr. Anna Schäffler is an art historian and curator based in Berlin. Her research on the contemporary preservation of art and cultural assets includes theory and practice at the intersection of art history, conservation, and curating. In 2019 Anna was junior fellow at the Free University of Berlin with a research project on artists’ estates. In 2021, she received a grant from the Berlin Senate to research autonomous strategies for preserving and archiving contemporary art practices. Beyond her academic research Anna develops long-term preservation strategies for and with artists as well as private and public institutions.

Watch this space for a registration link, which will be shared closer to the date.


Featured image: Anna Oppermann, Olive, 1977. Kunstmuseum Stuttgart/ Foto: Christian Wickler, Siegen. © Nachlass Anna Oppermann

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