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Museums and Immaterial Art

Museums and Immaterial Art is an interdisciplinary symposium that will focus on the intersecting fields of conservation, research and education and learning in the museums’ work with temporal and ephemeral art. The symposium will take place at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Friday 8 September 2017.


The changes seen in art affect museums and the role they play. Ephemeral and time-based media are an important and ever-growing aspect of art to which the institutions must relate, and handling art of this kind has been – and continues to be – a major challenge for art museums. Time-based and immaterial art poses special problems for the presentation of the works as well as for their conservation and preservation. The result is that for a vast majority of museums, art of this kind does not clearly come across to users as an important part of our cultural heritage. This is the problematics that the symposium wishes to address and confront.


The objective of the symposium is to promote theoretical as well as practical discussions of how museums can overcome the challenges inherent in the conflict between conventional, artefact-based and historically founded museum practices and the time-based and immaterial art forms.

Time-based and immaterial art challenge key aesthetic parameters such as presence, materiality and authenticity. Traditionally, the ‘materiality’ of a given work usually serves as a key vehicle for its meaning and aesthetics. What kinds of dilemmas arise in terms of our understanding of the significance of the work and its artistic intentions when its materiality is volatile, changeable, ephemeral or entirely absent? What do we do with material remnants such as documentation and relics, and what status and significance can be attributed to them? What does the artist’s intention or direct presence mean for the authentication of a work with open-ended or porous delimitations? Can the museums take over and prolong authentication – and if so, how? And is authentication the same as authenticity? 


The symposium takes place over the course of one day and is planned around two focused sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. 

In the morning session three invited keynote speakers will address a number of specific issues related to the epistemological, ontological and institutional perspectives and consequences that arise in the relationship between time-based and immaterial art and the museum.

In the afternoon session an interdisciplinary panel of art historians, conservators and artists will discuss the opportunities and challenges associated with ephemeral and temporary works, and the latent potential in raising awareness of this field. The afternoon is concluded by a specific case: the current Marina Abramović exhibition at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

The morning session will be conducted in English, while the afternoon panel discussion will be in Danish.


  • Morning session (in English)

09.15-09.45 Registration and coffee.

09.45-10.00 Welcome and opening address by Birgitte Anderberg, Senior Curator, SMK.

10.00-11.00 Immaterial Objects and Institutions. Graham Harman, Professor of Philosophy at SCI-ARC, The Southern California Institute of Architecture, L.A.

11.00-11.30 Coffee break.

11.30-12.00 Is the museum world capable of sustaining the life of immaterial and interactive artworks? Gaby Wijers, Director of LIMA, Amsterdam, international platform for sustainable access to media art.

12.00-12.30 What is immateriality and can it be recreated? Vivian van Saaze, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Maastricht University and managing director of the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage (MACCH).

12.30-13.00 Discussion, keynotes and audience. Moderator: Morten Søndergaard, Associate Professor and Curator, Aalborg University.

13.00-14.00 Lunch break.

  • Afternoon session (in Danish)

14.00-15.30 Panel Discussion: Louise Cone, Conservator Contemporary Art and Sculpture, SMK; Mads Kullberg, PhD., The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts; Marianne Torp, Senior Curator, SMK; Mathias Danbolt, Assistant Professor, Art History, Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen; Mogens Jacobsen, Artist; Goodiepal, Artist. Moderator: Camilla Jalving, Curator, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art.

15.30-16.00 Case: Presentation of the current Marina Abramović exhibition by Tine Colstrup, Curator, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

16.30-18.00 Reception and time to visit the exhibition and the museum.

18.00-22.00 Dinner at the Boat House, Louisiana.


Registration for the symposium has been closed.


  • Birgitte Anderberg, Senior Curator, SMK
  • Tine Colstrup, Curator, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
  • Louise Nicole Cone, Conservator Contemporary Art and Sculpture, SMK
  • Mads Kullberg, PhD., The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
  • Miriam Watts, Research Coordinator, SMK

Questions about the symposium can be addressed to

The symposium is a collaboration between Statens Museum for Kunst, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and Museum of Contemporary Art. The symposium is supported by Agency for Culture and Palaces.