Post –by Gautam Shah
Interventive conservation is the practice of mitigating further deterioration. The goal is to treat an artifact like entity so that it can be gently handled, safely stored or displayed without further risk of damage. In case of buildings the aim is to enhance the structural safety, bring it as close to its ‘original state’ or match it to some ‘perceived image’. Live heritage entities need to flourish with use-related awareness, as to what actions could be counter to sustenance.
Preventive conservation is a practice of preservation by providing a stable environment to minimize further damage or deterioration. The damage or fouling to an object or extent occurs from two main sources, the Environment and Human occupation or visitation. Both together accelerate the unstable nature of the entity’s composition. Preventive conservation is performed by a professional conservator and may mean specialized cleaning or the removal of agents that cause damage -an intervention of some form.
The way Interventive conservation and Preventive conservation are handled, and the end results, distinguish one from the other.
Conservation starts with an accepted truth, that the present condition of a built form or an entity is a historical fact, resulting from natural causes and human discrimination. The natural influences and human machinations in a building or entity are usually so interpolated that it is almost impossible to delineate them spatially or temporally. It is almost impossible to conserve any entity unless some of the changes are terminated, withdrawn, isolated or retracted. These exercises more often mean a move towards the original condition, which is an unknown or uncertain to begin with.
Preservation should be less bothered about the history of the object or look for the original conditions. But in attempts to create a stable environment to minimize further damage or deterioration, one needs to know are the actions yielding any fruitful results. Preservation attempts must not add anything that is irretrievable or un-restorable. Any action that adds a physical layer is avoided, as much as any structure or protective cover that obscures or obliterates the identity or appeal of an entity are not favoured.
Interventive Conservation and preservation both turn out to be attempts at restorations. ‘Buildings are preserved or conserved by the society, due to a fear, that any other action may cause irrevocable harm than any good’.
Society may not only preserve or conserve things its members like and value, but also abhorrent things (Hitler’s concentration camps, Hiroshima atomic ruins etc.), that must be ‘relived’. The appropriateness of the condition being preserved or conserved is always a matter of controversy. Preservation and conservation are always subjective judgements that are valid in only a particular, political, social or historical context.