Andreia Nogueira is currently engaged in critical and reflexive work on the meaning and significance of our contemporary cultural heritage (in between music and the visual arts) and on the articulation between sustainable development and creative conservation and the way it intersects with issues of open access and copyright. She is conducting the project "ARTinBetween: Bridging the gap for the long-term sustainability of multimedia artworks in between music and the visual arts" (2021-2024), hosted at Techn&Art research centre from the Instituto Politécnico de Tomar, Portugal.
Since the inception of the readymade, any and every material started to be used as a vehicle of the artistic discourse. With the adoption of ephemeral materials, such as chocolate, water, wind, sound, among many others, along with the increasingly dependence on digital technology and performative events, new challenges came to the fore considering the future of works created especially within the domains of conceptual art, installation art, performance art, time-based media, new media art, net art, etc. Given those works performance-based nature, it is the quality of the documentation produced (often by museum professionals) that will determine their long-term sustainability. Much has been said about the importance of the production of a proper documentation (with several projects developed on the subject, starting by the 90s), as well as on the relevance of getting access to that documentation in order to implement moral casuistry, based in a comparative assessment of previous decisions and case studies. Most documentation has, however, not been made available in open access (as it would be preferable), primarily due to copyright issues, and part of the one that is freely available is starting to get lost, since digital (on-line) repositories are ceasing to be maintained, after the end of their funding project(s). With this comes the question: why then to devote so many resources in getting artworks documented for their future preservation if that documentation is not shared and hence not known and available to the overall community of stakeholders?
The aim of this paper is then to reflect on whether museum professionals are prepared to think more seriously about copyright issues in a way to propose new policy recommendations or to try to find new pathways into open access, as to reach a much more sustainable preservation practice of contemporary art.