Variants of concern: authenticity, conservation, and the type-token distinction

Castriota, B. (2022) Variants of concern: authenticity, conservation, and the type-token distinction. Studies in Conservation, 67(1-2), pp. 72-83. (doi: 10.1080/00393630.2021.1974237)

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Over the last 20 years, the conservation literature around installation and performance artworks has increasingly relied on concepts and analogies from the philosophy of music to reformulate the concept of authenticity for artworks that recur in multiple instances. Within these frameworks, authenticity is often framed as a quality ascribed to a manifestation on the basis of its compliance with the artist’s explicit directives or a precision of formal resemblance with past manifestations. This article resituates the concept of authenticity invoked in fine art conservation within a wider discourse in analytic philosophy on the type-token distinction and artworks as abstract entities that are instantiated in time and space. Given the intersubjective nature and situatedness of authenticity judgements pertaining to a work’s manifestations, this article considers the limitations of authenticity frameworks predicated exclusively on score compliance and considers how a type-token ontology is more capacious. This article demonstrates how this distinction already underpins existing frameworks and discourses, how it aids in conceptualising the relationship between an artwork’s potentially multiple versions or variants and their manifestations, and how it accommodates the ways perceptions of an artwork’s identity are socially mediated through time and may differ across its viewership.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Funding: This research received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 642892.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Castriota, Dr Brian
Authors: Castriota, B.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Humanities
Journal Name:Studies in Conservation
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN (Online):2047-0584
Published Online:24 September 2021

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