http://www.kunsthaus.ch/en/the-collection/conservation/examples-from-the-world-of-art-conservation/video-collection/?redirect_url=title%3Draisons

Kunsthaus Zürich

Video collection

Restoration and digitization project

The project ‘Restoration and digitization of the video collection’ is generously supported by the Sophie and Karl Binding Foundation.

The Kunsthaus Zürich holds one of the largest and most important collections of video art in Switzerland. The museum began assembling a collection specifically focused on artists’ videos in the late 1970s, at the instigation of its then Deputy Director Dr. Ursula Perucchi. Key areas include the pioneer generation of video artists, such as Vito Acconci, Bruce Nauman, John Baldessari and Nam June Paik; and the German video scene of the 1980s, with practitioners including Marcel Odenbach, Ulrike Rosenbach and Klaus vom Bruch. Also well represented are a young generation of contemporary artists. The holdings have been progressively expanded over recent years; in total, the collection now comprises some 550 works by artists from both Switzerland and elsewhere.

The specific technology of the video medium presents constantly changing challenges for museums. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Kunsthaus embarked on a major project to copy a large number of volumes from the collection onto the Digital Betacam format. However the assumption made at the time, that this archive format would provide a solution for the next 20 years, is already proving to be outdated.

Since then, the technology has developed rapidly, and the time has now come to move to file-based archiving. The advent of the internet has also brought with it new expectations in terms of accessibility. The Kunsthaus has therefore launched a multi-year project to digitize the entire video collection and preserve it in a digital long-term archive. There are also plans to make the collection accessible to researchers and other interested parties via the intranet.

Around 260 volumes of the collection are very dirty or exhibit defects, and therefore require extensive restoration. They are being cleaned and repaired step by step by the Atelier für Videokonservierung conservation workshop in Bern.

The video material is being preserved and made accessible once again with the support of Memoriav – Association for the preservation of the audiovisual heritage of Switzerland.

Fig. 1
Joan Jonas, Left Side Right Side, 1972, video
Before cleaning: severe distortion
Fig. 1
Joan Jonas, Left Side Right Side, 1972, video
Before cleaning: severe distortion
Fig. 2
Joan Jonas, Left Side Right Side, 1972, video
After cleaning: good quality
Fig. 2
Joan Jonas, Left Side Right Side, 1972, video
After cleaning: good quality