Acquisition by Tate
Letters to the Censors entered the Tate Collection in 2004. Interested in broadening the geographical scope of its collection, Tate had founded a committee to support acquisitions from Latin America in 2002.
Under normal circumstances, a Tate conservator examines a work being considered for the Collection prior to acquisition. As this work was acquired at an art fair however, many of the issues related to its continued display and care only became clear once the piece arrived in London.
On its arrival in London the work was unpacked and conservation staff and the curator, Tanya Barson, began discussions with the artist. A number of small elements were broken in transit to Tate. The electrics needed to be upgraded to allow access to change lamps and also to satisfy British safety standards. Garaicoa had noticed that the equipment, used to project the film titles, which is housed inside the model, was creating an unacceptable build up of heat, causing the wood on the roof of the model to distort. It also became apparent that a few of the figures were lost, feared stolen. It was quickly recognised that the model present particular challenges to display: visitors would want to get close enough to see inside the model but its fragility made this difficult without exposing the work to the risk of being damaged.
The conservators, working closely with Garaicoa and his studio, began working on solutions to these problems. Find out more about what they did in ‘Presevation and Repairs’
The challenges of collecting, caring for and displaying contemporary art are ones best met collaboratively. As roles shift in response to new artistic practices, curators and conservators are developing a better understanding of the similarities and differences of their roles as they evolve in relation to contemporary art. In the following video clip Tanya Barson reflects on her role as the conduit for the relationship between the artist and the museum:
The curator's role and issues of conservation
Tanya Barson, Curator