PRIMI: Untraditional research collaboration on sustainable plastics at the National Gallery of Denmark
Using a grant of DKK 1.38 million from the Centre for Culture and Experience Economy, the National Gallery of Denmark is carrying out an interdisciplinary cooperative effort between artists, designers, curators, art historians and representatives from the plastics industry.
The research project is intended to chart and utilise the extreme use of plastic materials by artists and designers for the purpose of spurring innovation and growth in art and design, the plastics industry and museum conservation work.
Visual artists embody the expression extreme users as it pertains to the use of materials in the creation of their works. Using methods that push beyond boundaries, artists working in nearly all artistic media have consistently created a breeding ground for inventions that have improved the use of materials with respect to quality, aesthetics, usability and durability.
Over the course of the last 50 years, plastics have increasingly featured among artists’ choices of materials, leading to untraditional and innovative methods in the use of various types of plastic materials.
PRIMI – Plastics Research and Innovation for Museums and Industry
The Centre for Culture and Experience Economy has recently granted DKK 1.38 million to a new collaborative research project at the National Gallery of Denmark, which will stimulate growth and innovation in both the plastics industry and the art and museum world.
PRIMI (Plastics Research and Innovation for Museums and Industry) bridges the humanities and the natural sciences, serving as a partner between the plastics industry, artists, designers, researchers and art curators. The project is based on interdisciplinary research into a new, productive form of user innovation focusing on the artists’ ability to rethink and process plastic materials in a radically different way. Drawing heavily on experience with artists’ work and museums’ preservation of artworks, PRIMI aims to contribute expertise and innovation to both scientific research and the preservation of our artistic heritage, thereby generating growth in the cultural and experience economy.
Focus on sustainability
PRIMI will focus primarily on the durability of plastic materials. Despite positive results over the last several years of plastics research, the degeneration of plastics is still relatively fast. This problem is also well known to museum conservators working to preserve art. The art works that most urgently and quickly need preservation measures are works of a newer date that contain – or exclusively consist of – plastic materials. For the very same reason, museum conservators have a unique brand of expertise, as they have been documenting the aging processes in plastic materials to a much greater degree and over a much longer period than artists and the plastics industry. Working on the basis of experience gained by the plastics industry, artists and art conservators, PRIMI aims to develop and test plastic materials to create new expertise and new methods to improve the durability and preservation potential of plastic materials.
A unique research project
“We are unbelievably happy that the Centre for Culture and Experience Economy has agreed to work with us in such a brilliant way. PRIMI is without comparison a completely unique research project that gathers expertise and know-how from a series of widely different participants. This provides us with a strong foundation, and the results that we produce will in the same way increase quality not only in art and art conservation, but also in the greater and broader production of plastic materials,” says Jørgen Wadum, Keeper of Conservation at the National Gallery of Denmark.
Rasmus Wiinstedt Tscherning, Director of the Centre for Culture and Experience Economy, says: “PRIMI shows how cultural actors can work with industry in a way that is fruitful to both parties. The core idea of the project is that artists and the plastics industry have a unique approach to plastics. The project’s focus on innovation and development of new materials entails a high degree of growth potential for the companies involved, whilst at the same time benefiting art.”
In addition to participants from the National Gallery of Denmark, the PRIMI project involves representatives from the National Museum of Denmark, Technical University of Denmark, the PVC Information Council, PlasticsEurope, Papyro-Tex, and a number of artists and designers.
Read more about the Centre for Culture and Experience Economy
Artworks made of plastic
During the PRIMI project museum visitors of the National Gallery of Denmark can experience several different artworks made of plastic.
Tomás Saraceno Biospheres, 2009
Tomás Saraceno's work ‘Biopheres’, exhibited in the Sculpture Street at SMK is hovering transparent inflatable biospheres made of plastic, based on scientific studies of cloud formations, soap bubbles, and the geometric principles of spider web. Several of the spheres contain plant-based ecosystems,
while the biggest invites the museum guest inside. Saraceno has an established cooperation with NASA regarding the development of plastic materials, and he will be one of the participating artists in the PRIMI project.
Previous seminar on contemporary art at the National Gallery of Denmark
A seminar was held the 3rd and 4th of November 2008, arranged by the National Gallery of Denmark in collaboration with The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark and supported by the International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art - INCCA.
Research in plastics at the National Museum of Denmark
An international collaborative research project about the preservation of plastic artefacts in museums.
INCCA is a network of professionals connected to the conservation of modern and contemporary art. Conservators, curators, scientists, registrars, archivists, art historians and researchers are among its members. Members allow access to each others unpublished information (artist interviews, condition reports, installation instructions etc) through the INCCA Database for Artists' Archives.