Stedelijk Museum Conservators Rebecca Timmermans and Sandra Weerdenburg interviewed by Glenn Wharton, September 10, 2020
Rebecca Timmermans is the Conservator of Modern Art and Sandra Weerdenburg is the Sculpture Conservator and Head of Conservation at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. This interview focuses on their work at the Stedelijk generally as well as a conservation project they conducted in 2006–2007 on Jonas’s installations Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy / Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll and Sweeney Astray…Revolted by the Thought of Known Places.
- “Rebecca Timmermans and Sandra Weerdenburg interviewed by Glenn Wharton, September 10, 2020 (Interview Transcript).” Joan Jonas Knowledge Base, Artist Archives Initiative, 2021.
The interview begins with Rebecca Timmermans and Sandra Weerdenburg describing the Conservation Department, its function, staff, and roles at the Stedelijk. They state that the department is very small and there are four conservation disciplines, focusing on: three-dimensional works, paintings, paper, and applied art [00:00–03:51]. Weerdenburg then gives a short history of Organic Honey’s Visual Telepathy / Organic Honey’s Vertical Roll and Sweeney Astray…Revolted by the Thought of Known Places (the two installations by Jonas the conservators worked on), how these installations developed from the performances, and how they came into the museum’s collection [03:52–06:36]. From here, Weerdenburg continues to discuss the fluidity of these two installations and the challenges in the care, registration, and loaning that have arisen, including outdated technical equipment [06:37–12:11]. Moving on, Weerdenburg gives a short overview of the 2006/2007 project and speaks about trying to define the two installations and understanding the material and conservation aspects for future presentations, while also respecting the meaning and artist’s intent [12:12–20:08]. During this time Weerdenburg also speaks about the time frame for the project and the different museum staff members involved, including those from the Curatorial Department and the Audio/Visual Department [20:10–28:54].
The conversation then moves to how Jonas was heavily involved in the conservation project at the Stedelijk and the different concerns that came up with Jonas, revealing that even though this project was in 2006/2007, Jonas continues to work closely with Museum staff every time her works are reinstalled. Through this, the museum documentation continues to grow [28:55–34:03]. The interview then circles back to the elements and the content of the project itself. Weerdenburg describes different decisions that had to be made and walks through what it was like to create a pilot installation for Jonas to see [34:05–44:17]. At this point, conversation develops around the conservation and documentation process and how Jonas’s openness in her collaboration has aided conservation, especially when issues arise [44:19–59:29]. Weerdenburg also touches lightly on how the physical elements of these installations are stored in the museum and the Stedelijk documentation archives [59:30–1:02:25]. Moving on, Weerdenburg and Timmermans each describe their involvement, and that of other departments, when the Stedelijk Museum loans these works to other institutions, detailing the different guidelines of the installations [1:02:29–1:05:28]. The interview ends with Weerdenburg and Timmermans speaking about their conservation concerns for the future treatment and installations of these works [1:05:29–1:16:42].