Castriota, Brian; Marçal, Hélia:

Always already fragment: beyond integrity and loss in the conservation of cultural heritage

Conservation discourses often entail discussions around integrity, loss, and recovery. Recent developments in the field have highlighted the agency of conservators in the making of the entities being restored, and digital technologies have afforded new forms of memorialisation in relation to cultural heritage objects. But in which ways does the fragment figure in international charters and policies that underpin our practice? How do these documents confirm or confront the bespoke practices that are seen in the care of a myriad of media and physical objects, in a multitude of contexts, forms, and geographies? This paper examines how integrity and loss have been invoked both in conservation literature and international charters and policies. Drawing on a variety of philosophical and theoretical sources, and through reflection on different kinds of heritage objects, this paper considers how all cultural heritage exists in a state of incompleteness or fragment, and the implications this may hold for conservation ethics and practice.

Brian Castriota, Freelance Conservator for Time-Based Media & Contemporary Art, National Galleries Scotland and Irish Museum of Modern Art / Supervising Conservator, Archaeological Exploration of Sardis

Hélia Marçal, Lecturer in History of Art, Materials and Technology at the Department of History of Art, University College London / Researcher at Instituto de Historia da Arte, Universidade Nova de Lisboa