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Restoration and conservation project: Il Giornale del Resto del Carlino del Maggio 1976/Mario Merz (2015-2017)

Il Giornale del Resto del Carlino del Maggio 1976 is a room-sized installation created in 1976 by Mario Merz. The work comprises stacks of newspaper (featuring reports of the earthquake that took place on 6 May 1976 just north of Udine in the region of Friuli), sheets of glass, neon numbers, transformers, cables, plastic, and linseed oil putty. The idiosyncratic quality of the materials, the processes to which they attest, and the progressive ageing they have experienced over time, present conservators with tremendous challenges in terms of ensuring the work is appropriately maintained and displayed.

As part of a two-year restoration project, being carried out between 2015 and 2017 in partnership with the Institute of Restoration and Conservation Science at the Technische Hochschule in Cologne, the student conservator Johanna Elebe has set to work on the installation’s disintegrating components in a project undertaken as part of her MA. To shed light on the restoration project, while reconstructing both the evolution and subsequent history of the installation, interviews were conducted with curators, collectors, conservators, and former assistants to Mario Merz. The aim of the project is to return the installation to its original state, in all its material variety and diverse functionality.