Permanence

DEFINITION

Permanence is the quality of lasting into the far distant future. Something is permanent when it is fully expected to last many generations. There is a certain hubris in claiming anything about the future. Things can last as briefly as a moment before they are gone. Others last a few days, weeks, months or years; to varying degrees, these are all temporary, fragile in some way or other. Music, dance, and theater were once considered utterly transitory. With recording equipment, we have ever more commonly excellent documentation of such performance works. Many things that might have been permanent have been damaged, destroyed, or otherwise lost due to either natural or human causes. The natural category includes fires, floods, earthquakes, and other storms, insects, light, mold, and other problematic substances. Manmade disasters include wars, vandalism, accidents, pollution, neglect, and even the daily gentle touches of too numerous admirers. Permanence is an important issue to many in the art world. We are concerned that art media be permanent so that works can last if taken care of reasonably well; so we seek out permanent pigments, acid-free papers, and other sturdy materials, some that contain or seal surfaces from atmospheric and other forces. Museums speak of works in their collections being in their "permanent collections." Buyers of very expensive works think at least partly of their collections as investments or as gifts to posterity.Quote: "We don't yet know about life, so how can we deal with death? The impermanence of permanence haunts us every single day." Confucius (c. 551 to 479 BCE), Chinese philosopher. See death. Also see art conservation, art restoration, immutable, installation, Masonite, kiss of death, time, and vanitas.

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