Saturday, June 2 • 2:00pm - 2:30pm
(Book and Paper + Electronic Media) Caring for Electrophotographic Art: A Case Study of the Pati Hill Archives at Arcadia University

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This paper details a preservation strategy for the long-term care of electrophotographic art in museum and archival collections, using the Pati Hill Archives at Arcadia University as a case study. In 2016, Arcadia University was gifted copy artist Pati Hill’s archives and original prints - and along with them an interesting preservation challenge. Hill was one of the most prolific electrophotographic artists of the late 20th century, and her prints were almost exclusively produced using the black and white photocopiers manufactured for office use from the 1970s through the 1990s. Her working process pushed the mechanical capabilities of the copier; she overfed the machine with black powdered toner to produce what she called “stars,” areas where a very dense black toner layer was broken up by spots in which the toner particles did not fully adhere. Hill’s manipulation of the amount of toner applied to her prints is a trait which separates her from many other copy artists, and is also key to identifying the order in which multiple prints of the same object were produced. This makes it especially crucial that the toner layers of her prints are prevented from deteriorating over time. Electrophotographic prints (also known as photocopies, Xeroxes, and xerographs) are extremely common in archival document collections, where they are often considered secondary resources or copies of primary source material. However, there is a dearth of preservation literature providing a protocol for their care and preventive conservation as art objects. This paper will discuss the history and technology of the electrophotographic process, as well as risks and potential agents of deterioration to both the paper support and toner layer(s). Hill’s materials, working methods, presentation choices, and curatorial decisions are analyzed in the context of potential preservation challenges, including issues impacting future conservation treatment. The paper concludes with recommendations for practical steps toward the preservation of electrophotographic prints, including guidelines for housing and storage, environment, light exposure, conservation treatment, and exhibition.

avatar for Gillian Marcus

Gillian Marcus

Preservation Specialist, Documentary Heritage and Preservation Services for New York (CCAHA)
Gillian received her MA in Conservation of Art on Paper from Camberwell College of Arts in London, UK. Prior to joining the staff of DHPSNY, she was the National Endowment for the Humanities Preventive Conservation Fellow at CCAHA. She has worked in several private conservation workshops... Read More →

Saturday June 2, 2018 2:00pm - 2:30pm MDT
Texas Ballroom E Marriott Marquis Houston