ATELIER PALÍMPSÊSTOS

genève

Ms 184, De Natura Rerum, IXe s.

Bibliothèque de Besançon

CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION OF GRAPHIC ARTS, BOOKS AND PARCHMENTS

The term palímpsêstos indicates a manuscript whose material is reused to write a new text once the original script is removed. By doing so the material receives the new script keeping the latent trace of the ancient one. The latter becomes the silent witness of its historical predecessors. Originally adopted for the papyrus manuscripts, this technique was widely used during the Middle Ages, between the VII and the XII century: mainly for economic reasons, caused by the scarcity of material which it was written, the copyists began to eliminate the ink on the parchment manuscripts by washing, scratching or scraping the surface through the use of pumice stones.
For its stratigraphic nature, intersecting textual and graphic typologies of different characters, the term palimpsest was extended in the artistic, architectonic and archeological fields: it’s used for every artwork that came as a result of a successive series of metamorphosis where it’s still possible to glimpse traces of the past memories, always present and decisive in distinguishing the artwork’s identity.
Concealing in itself the concepts of absence and presence, of historical evidence, of change, of stopped, manipulated, dilated time, of transmission, the palimpsest refers in this manner to the restoration. It represents the investigation, the research; the concepts of matter and image, the respect for the complex historical accuracy of every piece of artwork and their knowledge are the cornerstone of our work.