This month’s #HangoutWithAPOYOnline is with APOYOnline volunteer Lénia Fernandes:
1) We believe that a person so established and with so much knowledge in the field of preservation does not need presentation, but please, comment briefly about you and your trajectory from your own vision and experience:
I knew I was interested in the field of photograph conservation from a young age, even if I didn’t know that that’s what it was called, or how to go about it. It’s hard for me to believe that I started studying conservation almost twenty years ago. When I finally got my degree in Portugal, the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008 affected everything and everyone. I had to look for opportunities in unfamiliar places if I wanted to get work experience related to the topic I was most passionate about. I was a bit naïve, but also persevering and willing to take risks. But I am sure I only managed to go on because of the support of friends and family, not to mention a good amount of luck. After twelve years working abroad in museums and archives, I’ve returned to Portugal to join the academic world and pursue a PhD related to color slide film. I also teach and give workshops once in a while.
2) How would you define the current moment of the Latin American preservation field in a nutshell?
Because I worked for a long time in Germany and the Netherlands, I lack personal experience with the situation surrounding the preservation field in Latin American countries. My understanding of it comes from the experiences that are shared by other colleagues. I feel like there has definitely been some progress, but much more still needs to be done.
3) What do you expect for the Latin American preservation field in the next 30 years?
I hope to see more opportunities, more connections, and more recognition for every one.
4) Could you indicate three publications that guided your career in the field of preservation?
As a conservation student, Conservação de Coleções de Fotografia by Luis Pavão (1997) was an absolute eye-opener, the gateway for me to want to learn more and more about old photographs. I pick up my copy of Twentieth-Century Color Photographs: Identification and Care by Sylvie Pénichon (2013) fairly often. It’s a wonderful book that takes you on a journey through the mad ideas people have had to create photographic images with color. And finally, I need to mention Words Matter: An Unfinished Guide to Word Choices in the Cultural Sector, by Wayne Modest & Robin Lelijveld (eds., 2018). We all need to be aware of the words we use and how they are often demeaning to others.
5) What message would you like to leave for young people working in the field of preservation? Perseverance and kindness pay off. It might seem unlikely but it is possible to get a position you are highly attracted to, even if you don’t completely match the job description. It’s great to meet people with lots of knowledge, it’s even better to meet those who are willing to share it.