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Subject: Battery


From: Linda S. Roundhill <artsconservation<-a>
Date: Monday, March 14, 2005
Patricia Sherwin Garland <patricia.garland [at] yale__edu> writes

>We have a sculpture by the artist David Wojnarowicz. It is composed
>of a cow's skull that has be decoupaged with currency. It has a
>small metal globe in its mouth and a Duracell D battery, decoupaged
>with a map for its eye. The battery is leaking acid. I have
>mechanically cleaned off what has surfaced, but am quite certain the
>process will continue.
>The artist is no longer living, so there is no possibility of asking
>his opinion. Does anyone have any idea of a way to slow/stop the
>process, or seal the battery, without compromising the piece?

In spite of the principles guiding the preservation of object
integrity, it is my opinion that this object has become dangerous to
handle, store and display.  I believe only freezing could slow down
the chemical reaction now, and this would render the object useless.

Perhaps a little cold steam can be used to loosen and remove the
decoupage and re-apply it to a new battery.  Of course, this only
delays the inevitable, for the new battery is likely to  do the same

If the decoupage can be safely removed and reattached (and maybe
also de-acidified/neutralized?), I would contact Duracell, explain
the rare circumstance, and request an empty battery blank that can
be substituted, documenting everything of course, and putting the
old battery into permanent cold storage.  They might be more than
happy to help with this odd project!

Sorry, it doesn't doesn't do what you asked, but that's all I could
think of.

Linda S. Roundhill
Art and Antiquities Conservation
18121 157th Ave NE
Woodinville, WA 98072

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:44
                 Distributed: Wednesday, March 16, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-18-44-004
Received on Monday, 14 March, 2005

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