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Subject: Battery


From: Valerie Tomlinson <valerie_tomlinson<-a>
Date: Thursday, March 17, 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?

I agree with earlier responses that the battery cannot be preserved
as is. The description of the sculpture does not state that the
battery is used as a power source for any component of the art work,
it is merely a decorative component. If the battery can be removed
from the sculpture for treatment, I would chose to open up the
battery and remove the liquid contents, either by drilling a small
hole in an inconspicuous location, or perhaps an existing seam can
be carefully sawn or cut open. Any residues should be neutralized
and cleaned out. I would then reassemble the battery with a neutral,
non-conducting filler and replace it in the sculpture. There would
still be the problem of dissimilar materials in contact, but in a
properly controlled environment, the rate of decay would be
significantly reduced.

Valerie Tomlinson
Assistant Conservator
Yellowknife, NT

                  Conservation DistList Instance 18:46
                   Distributed: Sunday, April 3, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-18-46-007
Received on Thursday, 17 March, 2005

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