#HangoutWithAPOYOnline - Sandra Cristina Serra Baruki

This month’s #HangoutWithAPOYOnline is with APOYOnline volunteer Sandra Cristina Serra Baruki:

1) We believe that a person so consolidated and with so much knowledge in the field of preservation as you do not need presentations, but please, comment briefly about you and your trajectory from your own vision and experience:

The first time I was involved in photographic preservation was through the National Foundation for the Arts, an organization of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, in the 1980s. Funarte and its National Program for the Photographic Preservation and Research, a policy created and implemented by our mentor Solange Zúñiga, through the National Institute of Photography INFoto, was devoted to the mission of safeguarding Brazilian photographic heritage, which lacked specialized professionals and required efforts for its preservation. I started working at Funarte in 1986 and remained working at the Center for Photographic Conservation and Preservation CCPF, the Program´s technical branch, for more than 30 years, either as part of the conservation team or coordinating. At the Center, I was able to apply my knowledge of architecture, my first degree, studying the suitability of buildings for the preservation of collections, as well as the guidelines for the implementation and monitoring of storage areas. My relationship with photography long predates the invitation to work at Funarte; it goes back to my childhood when I was always together with my mother Dinorah Serra Baruki, photographer and daughter of a photographer (the Foto Serrinha studio, in Corumbá, MS). Later, I attended courses, such as the one taught by photographer Dick Welton, a course that trained many photographers in the 1980s. In his studio, I developed my films and copied my photos. With the training possibilities offered to me by Funarte, I attended courses in Brazil, the United States and England, where I got my Master of Arts in Conservation at Camberwell College of Arts, revalidated by the School of Fine Arts at UFRJ. Working as a photograph conservator, I dedicated years of my life to training professionals in the field, one of the main actions of the CCPF. I also traveled a lot to work in consultancies, following ongoing projects and participating in national and international conferences. I understand that our profession requires a lot of dedication and studies, but it is fascinating as it offers us opportunities to get to know the world and make friends, in the process of promoting the area and working for its recognition and training of professionals. I am part of the first generation of photograph conservators in Brazil and we can say that through Funarte we made it possible to preserve our photographic collections. Today I work as an independent photograph conservator in a private studio, as a project consultant and also as a collaborating teacher at the Professional Master Course in the Preservation and Management of the Cultural Heritage of Sciences and Health at Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, FIOCRUZ, where I continue my vocation of training new specialists in the field. Finally, Recently I was invited to be part of the APOYOnline Board of Directors, after many years of collaboration with this organization.

2) How would you define the current moment of the Latin preservation field in a nutshell?

A moment of effective rapprochement between institutions and professionals, bringing together and promoting the area and emergent professionals. Undergraduate and postgraduate courses are consolidated in some countries of the region, enabling education as well as the implementation of reference projects and available bibliography in Portuguese. However, there is a lot to do, as there is a lack of specific academic courses in photographic conservation, my field of activity, and, specially, the creation of jobs for the new generation that has embraced the cause. 

3) What do you expect for the Latin preservation field in the next 30 years?

I expect recognition and appreciation of the conservation-restoration professional, with more possibilities for employment and specialization, and strong integration among Latin American professionals, which we are building, especially together with APOYOnline. With the speed at which technology advances, I believe that we must direct efforts to digital preservation, with the same attention to analogue photographic processes from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries, with regard to the area of photographic conservation. In addition, above all, I imagine our area becoming increasingly active in collections management, preventive conservation, risk management, emergency plans, and sustainability, given the environment crisis on our planet.

4) Could you indicate three publications that guided your career in the field of preservation?

The first book that guided my education was published by Kodak in 1984, entitled Care and Identification of 19th Century Photographic Prints, by James Reilly, In 1989. When I was in Rochester, NY, United States, I was an intern at the Image Permanence Institute (IPI), at the Rochester Institute of Technology, which was directed by the author. I was part of the team made up of the professors of scientific photography and preservation research in the world during those months. The IPI continues to be our main source of information, for its reference research for the knowledge of photography and its techniques, requirements and protocols for its preservation, as well as the discussion of topics that are always relevant to the practice of the profession. In the case of James Reilly´s book, I must especially highlight the methodology he created to identify photographic processes from the 19th century, which we still apply today. The book has always accompanied me in the courses I have carried out across the country for more than 30 years,

Bertrand Lavédrine wrote another important book that I must suggest, with the collaboration of Jean-Paul Gandolfo and Sibylle Monod, with the title A guide to the preventive conservation of photographic collections, published by The Getty Conservation Institute, in 2003. It is a book for permanent consultation for photograph conservators, as it presents in the first part the vulnerability of photographs, of negatives and positives, monochromatic or color materials and their physical, chemical and organic deterioration factors, as well as the international protocols regarding this matter. Next, how to protect the collections, the housing materials and systems, the storage environment, parameters and monitoring procedures. The third part is about exhibitions; the fourth, dissemination and access; and the last one informs about practices and techniques. Bertrand was in Brazil several times and he is a very important reference, collaborator, for Brazilian photographic conservation.

Finally, the Coleção Cadernos Técnicos de Conservação Fotográfica, organized and published by the Centro de Conservação e Preservação Fotográfica da Funarte, which publications I was part of the group of authors, organizers, as technical reviewer and coordinator. I must highlight the importance of texts especially written for the collection as well of the translations, which are the reference bibliography in Portuguese for institutions, professionals and students in our country. Among them, I mention the number 2 volume that contains texts by American conservators Nora Kennedy and Peter Mustardo, who worked as teachers and collaborators at Funarte CCPF. The first volume was published in 1997 and the most recent, number 9, in 2023, with the title Preservação de Fotografias Nato-digitais, by Millard Schisler, whose text was selected though the first Edital Funarte de Estímulo à Conservação Fotográfica Solange Zúñiga. 

5) What message for young people working in the field of preservation would you like to leave?

Working for the preservation of the cultural heritage, in the task of conserving and restoring, is exercising and promoting citizenship. As activists that we are, we work for the implementation of the area in the country and continue defending it and creating networks that strengthen us through national and international connections. It is exciting to be a conservator, but it is also difficult for several reasons. I wish determination and success to emergent colleagues. There is a lot to do and you are now the main actors of this history. 




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