Ghada Amer’s work in Conservation

A few weeks ago, Maura and I paid a memorable visit to the Conservation lab in the Museum where several of the works from the upcoming exhibition, Ghada Amer: Love Has No End have made a temporary home. Associate Conservator Rachel Danzing and the entire Conservation staff have been working to meticulously restore these pieces to their original condition before the gallery installation later this week. One of the things that Maura and Rachel were looking at on the day of our visit was the wallpaper from The Reign of Terror (2005), an installation that Ghada Amer did at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum and Cultural Center in 2005. The beauty and vibrancy of the color and pattern on this wallpaper is challenged by the definitions of “terror” or “terrorism”, which are printed in different languages over and over again on the paper, so naturally it’s important that none of this crucial text is cut off or missing prior to the final installation.


Curator Maura Reilly and Associate Paper Conservator Rachel Danzing examine the text on the wallpaper from the artist’s Reign of Terror installation. (Photo: Sarah Giovanniello)

Rachel was nice enough to provide me with a quote on what exactly she and Maura were looking for with the wallpaper: “If I remember correctly, each roll of wallpaper is one complete section where the top half is printed continuously with the bottom half, except the bottom half is printed upside down. In the photograph, Maura and I are checking the join where the top and bottom meet to confirm that the sentences do indeed join up where they should. The wallpaper will be cut and the two pieces joined on the wall to make one section.”

Maura and Rachel unroll the wallpaper to the end, and discover that the writing begins exactly where they hoped it would! Thankfully no unnecessary cutting is needed to ensure that the text matches up when it is pasted on the wall in the gallery. (Photo: Sarah Giovanniello)

After the question about the wallpaper was resolved, Maura and I stopped by the area of Conservation where two early works have been getting a lot of attention. Rachel performed some major conservation miracles on the piece, Untitled (1991). Now that the finishing touches have been made in Conservation, the exhibition is ready to be installed. Check back later this week for a preview of the exhibition during load in and installation!

Two early Ghada Amer works, Untitled (1991), and L’Ange (The Angel) (1991) are mounted on large easels in the conservation lab. (Photo: Sarah Giovanniello)