Unruly Objects and Biological Conservation

Anna Dumitriu is collaborating with the Department of Conservation of Antiquities and Works of Art at The University of Western Attica in Athens (Greece) to explore the biology and chemistry of conservation through an active collaboration with the department’s leader Professor Georgios Panagiaris. In his lab Professor Panagiaris’ team are exploring the biochemistry of bacteria and yeasts to produce microbes that are able to aid in the preservation of artworks and antiquities rather than destroy them. Dumitriu is working with the research team to explore the ethics and risks of such a strategy and discuss how these ideas will impact the preservation of contemporary “unruly objects” (Rubio, 2014) such as her BioArt works (made with bacteria and yeasts), including her own artistic experiments inspired by the lab’s research, thus kick-starting discussions around the preservation of contemporary BioArt in the context of a major institution. Due to the nature of materials used in BioArt works, museums are often very cautious about collecting them. This project aims to explore the field of biological conservation and question what materials are acceptable in a museum environment.

The project is funded by an A-N Artists Bursary 2020 (extended to 2021 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic).