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Subject: Intestine


From: Gretchen Kriner <marigold>
Date: Friday, March 15, 2002
Recently the art center where I work accepted a piece for its annual
month-long local artist exhibit.  The piece is a oversized female
figure composed of mixed media.  The "skeleton" and "fatty tissue"
are simulated with steel, wire, silicon, and other ordinary
sculptural materials.  However, the artist stretched pig and cow
intestine over the outside to form the figure's "skin."  The
figure's appendages are jointed in anatomically accurate places
using moving metal parts.  The skin has dried and hardened around
the piece, but the joints are still flexible.

Obviously there are several concerns to address here.  Besides the
logistics of mounting the piece (in a gallery that's undergoing
construction, no less), I am very concerned about the outer layer of
intestinal matter. For one thing, it has a very pungent odor.  The
artist suggested spraying "Febreeze" on it, which made me balk as I
don't know what's in Febreeze and whether a negative reaction could
occur.  I'm also worried that the "skin" will attracting pests.

Furthermore, I have concerns about how humidity changes and
temperature fluctuations, particularly under hot gallery lights,
could affect the "skin."  Obviously monitoring both RH and
temperature is essential, however I wouldn't know the best
conditions under which to display this piece, especially since other
more traditional works of art will be alongside it.  Further,
correcting detrimental fluctuations would probably be problematic,
given that there is construction going on and the HVAC system is
generally inconsistent in its performance.

It is my feeling that at the very least the artist should be
informed as to the problems inherent in displaying and preserving
works made from animal intestinal matter, as he intends to continue
working in this material.

In regard to the odor and the discouraging of pests, I'm wondering
if a conservationally sound type of shellac/varnish would be
appropriate.  The artist is not opposed to applying one *if* it does
not impede the movement of the jointed metal parts of the figure. In
regard to my other concerns, well, any advice would be much

Gretchen Kriner
Exhibitions Volunteer
Fitton Center for Creative Arts
Hamilton, OH

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:63
                  Distributed: Tuesday, March 19, 2002
                       Message Id: cdl-15-63-020
Received on Friday, 15 March, 2002

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