VAN DE KERCKHOVE, A. Conservation of a Miroslaw Balka, 2000

Posted on Sun, 10/12/2008 - 07:56

In this article conservator Andrée van de Kerckhove describes step-by-step the decisions she took in the conservation process of ‘211x179x125, 190x129x73’, a work by the Polish artist Miroslaw Balka.

Work under discussion:
Artist: Miroslaw Balka
Title: “211 x 179 x 125, 190 x 129 x 73”
Dated: 1993
Inventory no. : 2666 - 93 KMS
Please follow these links to the images: 'part one' and 'part two'

 

Image removed.

 

 

 

Situation summary

I started writing this text the day after a meeting with Miroslaw Balka. The meeting took place in the Kröller Muller Museum on Wednesday 6 December 2000. This text combines information obtained from archive correspondence, verbally transmitted information and currently visible evidence. Its text is to clarify my thinking on matters of which I do not have first-hand experience, but which I need in order to propose how we can proceed further.

The work of art was completed, formally at least, in 1993. I have known the work since 1997. All pre-1997 data to which I refer below come from correspondence in the archives of the Kröller Muller Museum, or were given to me verbally by staff of the museum. The data have been accumulated in the course of the last three years. Although there were hints that things were not exactly as they should be as long ago as 1997, it soon became clear that certain pieces of evidence were missing and that there minor contradictions in the available information. It therefore seemed best to wait for a meeting with the artist before undertaking any action.

 

7/12/2000

Installation or sculpture?

It is three years since I read a letter written by Evert Van Straten, the director of the Kröller Muller Museum, to Steven van Beek, then head of the technical department, in connection with the purchase of two new works from the Sonsbeek exhibition of 1993. Letter dd. 23/9/1993 in Sculpture Archive, Kröller Müller Museum

 

“...The museum has purchased two works at the Sonsbeek Exhibition in Arnhem. The dismantling and transportation of these two works must be arranged in October. The works concerned are as follows:

1) Pawel Althamer, ca. 14 wooden benches in the Sonsbeek Park, near Villa Sonsbeek (transportation only).

2) Miroslaw Balka, a work consisting of two components in separate places. The dismantling and demolition required is far from simple.

Part 1 is located in the house at Noordelijke Parallelweg 46, corner of Schilderstraat, and consists of a double metal box. The box contains sand. There is a heating element and a flannel blanket on top of the box.

Part 2 is located outside the fence of the Moscowa cemetry, near the intersection of Schelmseweg and Waterbergsweg. The work consists of a concrete sculpture of the same dimensions as the metal boxes, sunk into the ground.

The intention is that after removal from the metal boxes, the sand will be used to fill the hole created by removal of the concrete sculpture. Thus the museum will only retain the concrete sculpture, the EMPTY metal boxes, the heating element and the flannel blanket. (...)

Please place the works in storage in preparation for their placing in the garden ...”

He attached two photographs of Balka’s work, i.e. of the original arrangement.

Certain puzzling details struck me when reading the letter in the way it describes parts of the work. A ‘double metal box’ could be understood as indicating that two separate components were involved. The words ‘a concrete sculpture ... sunk into the ground’ gives the impression that this component is a work of sculpture in its own right, although the sentence contradicts this by specifying a relation with ‘the metal boxes’. Unintentionally, the letter hints at the complexity of the work’s ‘unity’.

During our recent meeting, the artist mentioned that he did not view the work as an installation but as a sculpture. The full implications of his remark were not immediately obvious to me. My appreciation was clouded by habitually interpreting the work by association with architecture (rooms), so I failed to realize that the work was not just about the analysis or juxtaposition of things, but that Balka was chiefly concerned with interlocking - with the synergy between elements that actualize the material content. It is a synergy that is clearly also present in the drawings he made for this work, which are also in the Kröller Muller collection.


Significant and auxiliary elements
The letter from Evert van Straten, although meant to be simply informative and provide technical instructions, shows the complexity of the relation between ‘significant’ and ‘auxiliary’ ‘Significant’ refers to elements of the work of art that convey content in their own right and are essential to a reading of the work of art. ‘Auxiliary’ elements are technical components or features that are necessary for realizing the magic of the work of the art, but could theoretically be modified or replaced without changing the meaning of the work. elements in this work. Auxiliary factors are scarcely mentioned. They are apparently invisible to Van Straten, even though they would be relevant in a technical instruction. The transformer is not mentioned, for example. Possibly he saw this merely as forming a unit together with the heating element, to which it is connected by an electric cable. It function is the transmission of the necessary energy which sustains the heating element, as through a kind of umbilical cord.

 

Absences and anonymity
When I inspected the work together with Miroslaw, he stressed the importance of the quality of ‘absence’ of the transformer. Considering the work’s present location, he recommended mounting the transformer block on the wall alongside the power socket, instead of in the corner behind the work where it is hardly visible to the public. It is indeed much less prominent in its present position than in the original arrangement in the Sonsbeek exhibition, where it was simply placed in front of the steel element. Miroslaw thus considers the transformer to be more part of the environment in which the work is placed than part of the work itself. Although ostensibly invisible, it is as though the physical contact with the steel produces an irritating, disturbing tension. The ‘aura’ of the work of art does not tolerate this contact, not even when it is practically hidden. It is not ‘visibility’ that matters here.

Miroslaw seeks the anonymous. The ‘facts’ and the ‘forms’ exist in a certain area, at a certain moment and place. But it must not be a ‘known’ or ‘professed’ datum. It should be purely a ‘something’ in a complex happening of things in a place, at a moment in eternity. And particularly things that nobody has noticed, the kind of thing people unconsciously but selectively delete from their memory, because it is simply not possible to retain everything - like the exact words in a sentence for example.

Like one of the chairs around a large table, the work of Miroslaw has become a natural part of the Kröller Muller collection. The visitor, on leaving the museum, does not ask himself how many chairs were tucked under the table. And in recalling the ‘chairs’ he is sure to forget the one by Balka. If you recall it, then it is in primarily as an indefinable something, which is just there in the corner, getting a bit in the way. You don’t easily associate with the collection as a whole. In that sense, the placing of the work is identical to the original setup in Sonsbeek, when the work was located in an empty house and just outside the perimeter fence of the cemetery.

The effect is sometimes irritating. The presence prevents you doing what you like in the room.

We spoke about the work in relation to other art. I asked him what he thought about certain other pieces displayed in the immediate vicinity of his work. He smiled. It was a friendly smile, but it seemed as though he was enjoying a private joke and that puzzled me a little. I didn’t think it was such an unusual or silly question. Some artists do not even wait until you ask them that question but begin talking about the neighbouring works of their own accord. Miroslaw obligingly tried to answer, mentioning some artists’ names and so on. But there was clearly a submerged message of ‘irrelevance’ in what he said, although he did not say that explicitly. His reaction kept bothering me for a while. Now I think this feeling is simply what happens when you lay out work in a museum room. It often gets a bit uncomfortable when exhibits are arranged in the room containing the steel component. Miroslaw’s work has nothing obtrusive about it, but it is always the other works that tend to be ‘too much’ when nearby. However, when Balka’s work is placed by itself it results in a hiatus - an equally uncomfortable feeling - in the continuity of the museum display. You actually are forced to ignore the work, for otherwise you could not do anything with the exhibition layout of that situation. You could remove it temporarily: Miroslaw does not exclude this option. But you would naturally think twice before doing so, because then you would have to dig a hole in the front garden. I was touched when, at another point in the conversation, Miroslaw recalled seeing a work by Louise Bourgois displayed before the window of the ‘old sculpture hall’ through which the concrete element is visible, when he was in the museum to inspect the installation of his work four years ago. The layout of the room has since been changed. The work ‘The Prayer’ by Gonzales currently stands in front of the window. The artist gave no hint that he was in any way dissatisfied with this relation. I concluded that his interest in and admiration for the work of Bourgois was of a different, more intense, order.

We also talked about moving the work and about changes to small details in the present context. This work as a highly site-specific character. In the drawings for the Sonsbeek exhibition, the artist shows the exact dimensions and sketches the exact position of the components in relation to recognizable points in the surroundings where the work was to be placed. He also specified the placing in the Kröller Muller Museum precisely (although no drawings were made). Moving the work to a different spot or changing the surroundings is not a step to be undertaken lightly. I challenged him with the question by raising the hypothetical idea that some aspect of the architecture of the museum might be altered in the future. He said something to the effect of ‘ask me when it comes to it, and if I’m no longer here ask my son’. I have heard this reference before. It reminded me of an article ‘As a son’ which I wrote several years ago. The text dates from 1995 and was published in the final issue of the magazine Museumjournaal, volume 7, no. 1/2/3, 1996. A special relationship has to exist between the person who sites the work and the one who has made it. If it were necessary to move Balka’s work in the Kröller Muller Museum and someone else were to attempt to do so, the risk of taking a ‘wrong decision’ would higher than for many other works. However well-intended the approach of that other person might be, there would be a serious risk of either producing an excessive (‘wrong’) harmony with the surroundings or - in an overzealous attempt to avoid that pitfall - overstressing the identity of the work and giving it an overbearing presence.

 

8/12/2000

Chapter and story
In his letter, Evert van Straaten asked for the steel box, the heating element, the flannel blanket and the concrete element to be brought to the museum. Steven van Beek was required to used the sand from the box to refill the hole left next to the cemetery.

It was clearly meant as a way of marking the end of a chapter, but not of the whole story, in the vicissitudes of this work of art. The chapter ends with an almost ritual erasure of traces. The sand in the steel container in the house was returned to the Moscowa graveyard and used to refill the pit from which the concrete component was extracted. When I read of this, it reminded me of something I came across in the correspondence we had accumulated in connection with Carl Andre’s ‘35 Timber Row’, a work which is also in the Kröller Müller collection. The work had been seriously damaged during an exhibition in 1979, and the artist recommended reconstructing it. In a letter to the previous owner he proposed setting fire to the damaged original “…at the edge of the sea...”. This kind of conclusion of a chapter in the life of a work of art seems to have special significance for certain artists. The work cannot be simply transferred from one place to another without changing its meaning. There is a striking difference between some aspects or components that can apparently be replaced or modified without problems, while other changes are of a different order.

In Carl Andre’s case, the wooden beams were replaced by new ones. The ‘spirit’ of the work remained the same and the kind of materials too, but the ‘body’ was changed. It is unclear what actually happened to the original materials. We must assume they no longer exist but there is considerable doubt about whether they were indeed burnt as the artist proposed. Another letter indicates that this would have produced problems with insurance. But does this really matter? The main thing in my view is that the original blocks of wood no longer exists and the artist expressed his thoughts about the reconstruction in his letter. This illustrates the atmosphere of meticulous care which the artist expects of us, while it makes our duty of ‘seriousness’ clear: you don’t do something like that without thinking about it. Something like that cannot be decided or carried out by just anyone, in my view, randomly or without justifying the action. The research on Andre’s work was carried out because the problem of damage returned to the agenda. There was a surmise that because the work had already been reconstructed once before, this could happen again. The research leads us to believe that this assumption is incorrect. The artist will be consulted, and it will be assumed that should a new reconstruction take place in consultation with the artist, this must not be taken as justification for repeating this action in the future.

There are differences in the case of Miroslaw Balka’s work. The removal took place in a very specific manner. The method used to conclude the first ‘chapter’ echoes the way the work was made in the first place. It was not a method instantly decided by the artist when it came to dismantling the exhibition. Miroslaw had already decided how the work’s existence as a part of the exhibition was to be terminated when creating the work in the first place. His description of how this should take place can be found in the design drawings.

The returning of the soil to its original spot was an essential part of the work from the outset. However, Miroslaw did not specify what was to happen to the other components of the work on conclusion of the exhibition. The absence of this information makes it clear what value he attached to the soil in its own right, in particular the significance of its origin. By linking the earth (physical/body) to the place from which it originated as a fundamental aspect of the spirit, it becomes impossible to choose this body arbitrarily. The kind of earth is subordinate to the place; the kind of earth is determined by the place.

 

9/12/2000

A new location
Miroslaw chose a new location for the work at the point where the Van de Velde Building adjoins the newer section The Van de Velde Building was opened in 1938. Following the death of Helen Kröller Müller in 1939, her husband and direct successor as the director of the museum, Mr. Kröller en Van Deventer, commissioned the architect Van de Velde to design a new wing. The building work started in 1944 but was halted due to the war circumstances. The museum was cleared of its contents and put to use as a military hospital. The extension was eventually completed in 1953. The museum’s new wing, designed by W. Quist, was added in 1980. In the ‘intermediate wing’, Van de Velde provided extremely large windows to allow the sculptures in the exhibition space to enter into a direct relationship with the natural surroundings.

which provided the first large sculpture hall and which formed the transition to the museum’s new wing. Both the concrete element, placed outdoors, and the steel elements, inside the building, are located in relatively secluded corner positions in and just outside this transitional zone. Miroslaw chose a place for the concrete component next to the first large window of the old sculpture hall. It is noteworthy that here too he chose a place ‘just outside the boundary. The component is in the museum’s front garden, effectively ‘outside’ the museum. It is hardly visible to the visitors entering the museum because it is located some distance from the path behind a corner of the building. Together with the work “Buried Paintings” (1994) by Chohreh Feyzdjou and to some extent the work “The Overturned Tomb” 1994 by Huang Young Ping, Miroslaw Balka’s piece forms a tranquil counterweight to the other works in front of the museum entrance. Whereas the other sculptures and installations accentuate the identity of the place, these works retreat quietly but emphatically from what we recognize as a museum.

The earth which was extracted during placement of the concrete component was used, as in Sonsbeek, to fill the steel component inside. While operators were digging a pit in the place exactly specified by Miroslaw, they ran into some concrete foundations. (Presumably these had been laid initially as foundations for the wall of the new wing, which was eventually moved some way backwards for unknown reasons.) Part of these residual foundations were demolished and the rubble was used together with the excavated adjoining earth to fill the steel box.

In Sonsbeek, the components formed an entity with their surroundings. The artist discovered a new unity in the museum context. However, he new location adds a circumstance which could hardly have been as strong with most other museums. The location of the Kröller Müller Museum in the heart of the Veluwe Forest gives it an air of isolation that distinguishes it from other museums. The sense of abandonment competes with an atmosphere of quiet and intensity, and both of these result from the wide natural margin that separates the museum from the social hubbub of everyday life. Clear though this may be, I wanted to hear the artist’s opinion about it. His answer to my question was brief: ‘in a certain way, a museum is also a kind of cemetery’.

 

10/12/2000

A second chapter
The second chapter did not open simply with relocation. Despite Evert’s letter requesting the transportation of the various components to the museum, not all the components are present as the letter leads one to expect. The concrete component is the only item that is physically identical to the work in Sonsbeek. The steel box had been made specifically for the temporary exhibition and was structurally too weak to be reused. Both the museum’s technical department and the artist confirmed that the steel sheeting was too thin and that the welds were breaking under the pressure of the box’s contents. The box was therefore reconstructed. The new embodiment was made of 5mm Corten steel sheeting. The dimensions given in the title of the work (which correspond to those in drawings made for the Sonsbeek exhibition) were applied, so that the general size and proportions are identical. The artist ‘revised’ the work. The steel box in Sonsbeek was partly rusted. In the Kröller Müller Museum, the artist presents a totally rust-covered component. The improved materials and construction automatically resulted in a hard, totally corrosion-coated surface.

The felt is a tricky question in the whole affair. You could describe it as thorn in the artist’s side. The correspondence refers to it time and time again, and we also touched on it in our conversation. Miroslaw was evidently dissatisfied with the felt during the Sonsbeek exhibition and this is still the case today.

A striking point is that Evert van Straten’s letter refers to a flannel blanket, although the drawings for the Sonsbeek exhibit bear the words ‘electric blanket with white felt’. Both flannel and felt can consist mainly or entirely of wool fibres but they are different in many respects. Felt is made by compressing a mixture of hair or other fibres (often wool) with fat or soap. The fibres interlock at random. Flannel is a thick woven fabric of wool, cotton or a mixture in either a plain or twilled weave. It is a material that is indeed widely used for blankets. The fabric is mechanically treated after weaving to raise a nap. At first sight, it does bear a superficial resemblance to felt, but the latter may form a much denser mass and may thus be stiffer.

The ‘blanket’ from Sonsbeek was not used for the reconstruction of the work in the Kröller Müller Museum. There were problems. The voltage was wrong. The technical department stated that the system was hazardous and could not be modified. Miroslaw wrote a letter to Van Straten on 28 September 1994 saying ‘... I would like during my stay in Otterlo to discuss with you a new project and finish old one (piece inside - do you think that it will be possible to get electric-heating cover?...)’. He visited the museum not long afterwards and remained working there for a number of days. He arrived on 10 October 1994 and stayed for four days. See correspondence in archives. The work had thus not yet been reassembled. The intention was to install the work during his visit. The technicians recall that, because of the problems, he took the original blanket away with him when he left the museum. The blanket used in Sonsbeek is thus no longer present in the museum. Miroslaw intended to seek a new one in Poland. Letter from E. van Straten to M. Balka dd. 25/10/1994. See archives. Later correspondence indicates however that he was unable to find an electric blanket of a suitable voltage. He wrote that he had looked for an electric blanket in Poland but was unsuccessful in his search (then he explained the problem of the voltage). He goes on to write, ‘... So maybe we should say “I am sorry” to the old heating cables. And put them on the top of the soil in the way as we talked. Or try with 80-W from Dutch blanket. What your electrician think about it? Please let me know.’ Fax from M. Balka to E. van Straten dd. 26/10/1994. See archives. It is clear from the correspondence that Evert van Straten did send a reply, but it is not included in the archives. thanked Evert for his fax of 10 January 1995 in a fax dated 3 February. It is not at all clear what the reply stated concerning this subject, and it is not mentioned again in subsequent correspondence.

The artist visited the museum again on 1 August 1995 for further discussion about his work - his second visit since the Sonsbeek exhibition. This was the first time he saw his work displayed in the museum, for the museum staff had meanwhile adopted a solution on Balka’s request. Information passed on by the technicians, which is also apparent in data from several material studies, i.e. a number of samples of flannel fabrics with dates collected by a member of staff. The blanket takes the form of a piece of flannel with borders folded over to prevent fraying and a width equal to that of the box. The artist gave his approval to this solution.

 

12/12/2000

Today
A long interruption occurred in the course of discussions for an new project. The director and the artist had agreed to postpone the project because the structural concept proved expensive and steps had to be taken to ensure sufficient funding. In the course of this year the need to renew intensive contact had returned, resulting in a new visit a few days ago.

It is unclear how whole-hearted Miroslaw’s assent to the blanket solution at his last visit in 1995. However, an e-mail (late October 2000) from Evert to Miroslaw contains the first comment regarding the work after a long interval: ‘... I also want to discuss with you a new flannel piece for your sculpture indoors...’.

When examining the work together with Miroslaw, it was immediately obvious to me that he was quite dissatisfied with the steel component of the work. It was far from easy for him to recall the situation and agreements or decisions of his previous visit. The point is that the flannel is not well placed. The cloth is supposed to touch three edges and leave a 12 cm border of sand (roughly the same width as his hand) exposed on the fourth side. There is also insufficient sand in the box. The the sand with the blanket on top of it should reach the top margin of the steel box. The heating element should be pressed deeper into the sand so that its presence cannot be seen through the blanket. The small felt pads under the leg of the steel component need replacing. It is important that they remain clearly visible and should therefore be white. Incidentally, the steel component has two redundant legs, namely those located in the centre of a rib. The legs are supposed to be placed at the corners only. Photographs taken at the Sonsbeek exhibition do show legs in the centre of the rib, however. Possibly these were necessitated by the weak construction of the original steel box. A note has now been found in Evert’s archives in which the artist stated back in 1995 that the extra legs were redundant. He must surely have pointed this out on his visit too. Miroslaw also stated that the flannel blanket now covering the sand was not thin or stiff enough.

The artist also repeatedly referred to ‘felt’ in our recent conversation. After his departure, I spoke to some members of the technical staff who had not been involved in the consultations with the artist. Asked what they recalled of the ‘blanket’ from Sonsbeek, they explained that it was a hazardous component, which the artist had taken back home with him in a defective state on a previous visit, and that the blanket now in use was much finer and more flexible that the original one.

 

15/12/2000

In a conversation with Evert van Straten, it became clear to me what he meant by the need for consultation with the artist about the blanket. Evert recalled the following. The artist was dissatisfied with the flannel blanket when we say it in 1995. Evert was the one who therefore preserved a remnant of the flannel. The piece of flannel is kept in the museum’s materials archives. During the 1995 visit, after Miroslaw had approved of the material, the edges were folded over to give it the correct dimension, and the blanket was ironed before it was installed. Evert considered the element to be too small, because it did not touch the three sides. The idea that the blanket was too small and the fact that the heating grid could be seen too well through had been nagging at him continuously. He now wished to talk to the artist about it again. Evert did not conduct this consultation with the artist during the recent visit. It was no longer relevant to him since we had decided that I would be the one to discuss this work with the artist, while Evert and Steven van Beek would talk to him about the new project.

The blanket does not look as though it has shrunk. I myself and the artist together shifted it so that the fabric touched the edges of the steel box on three sides. Miroslaw expresed his approval of the gap that thus remained open on one side leaving the earth exposed to view. His hand fitted precisely into the gap. In as far as comparision is possible, the distance agrees well with that in the photos of the Sonsbeek exhibition. Miroslaw has taken the measurements of the blanket as it is now and intends to make a new attempt to find a satisfactory blanket in Poland.

 

Touch
For years, a title card bearing the words ‘do not touch’ has been placed under the work. Miroslaw pointed it out to me and said, ‘You must change this. You ought to write “touch”’. It is the intention that visitors lay their hands on the blanket and feel the warmth it gives out. The blanket is not meant to stay clean. The marks left by people touching it are part of the work. The trace of human contact adds something; perhaps I could call it ‘approachability’.

So there is no reason to erase the marks, as long as they are traces of hand contact. Miroslaw stressed a nuance of difference that mattered to him between the positive and negative ‘traces of contact’, taking a footprint for comparison. A footprint would not be acceptable, but a mark made by hand would be less problematical, even if the gesture showed a hint of aggression. The hesitancy with which he raised this example warned me that I ought to be a little careful about interpreting this statement. Recalling the importance of anonymity to Miroslaw himself, I think that this could also be an important parameter in respect of the traces left by others. If a mark left by a visitor were to betray too much identity, it would affect the work and diminish its expressive content. A footprint or graffiti, for example, would contradict the ‘anonymity’ of the work.

The importance of the traces of touching to the indoor component of the work stands in complete contrast with the artist’s intentions towards the concrete element outside. When we examined it, he was disturbed by the growth of algae on the concrete and the accumulation of leaves inside the object. He does not wish the concrete to merge into its natural surroundings too much. It therefore requires regular maintenance. The contrast between ‘emptiness’ and ‘fullness’ inherent to the work demands a comparable duality in the approach to its conservation. I proposed to the artist that we should clean it with an algicidal agent at least twice a year but not go so far as to treat it with an impregnation agent which would keep it free of algae automatically. The periodic maintenance will be carried out at the same time as that on the work .... by Wang Yong Ping which is also in the museum’s entrance garden. Miroslaw agrees with this proposal.

 

17/12/2000

Dilemma
There is one question that still bothers me. The eventual decision to replace the original ‘electric blanket with white felt by a separate heating element and blanket puzzles me somewhat. The purity experienced by the viewer touching the blanket, which is reinforced by the marks this leaves, play a part in the whole work, but it is all too often negated by the viewers themselves. Many people are apparently unable to resist the temptation to peek under the blanket. Often one corner of the blanket is left folded back and must be put back in order by the museum attendants.

When you lift the blanket as it is now, you can see with the heating element. If we were to bury this just under the surface of the soil, it would take away the attraction of this confrontation. The heating grid would return to being a auxiliary element. The situation is similar to the transformer I mentioned at the beginning of this report. I have always understood, and still do, that the heat is a significant part of the work in its own right but that the heating element is merely a means of delivering this heat. The visibility of this element should be avoided at all costs.

In the artist’s original approach, the auxiliary element is an additional value to the covering element. This element implied the emission of heat in two directions: it supplied heat the ‘body’ of the work (the earth) and heated the hand of the person who touched the work. In the modified construction, Miroslaw displaces this value by making the heat a part of the earth, so that the covering element functions as a conduit for that heat.

Now, what heats and is heated?


General features
Proportions and dimensions: often in relation to the artist’s body.

Relation between materials: hard versus soft.

Site specificity: highly site specific. Very precise distances and positions of the elements in relation to certain points of reference in the hall. Symbolic, iconographic connection between the elements and their placing.

Relation between the elements: empty - full, inside - outside, traces - pure, inside the museum (literally and figuratively) - outside the museum (literally and figuratively).

 

Actions to take
Modification of steel element as described:

Remove 2 legs (centre of rib).

New felt pads under the legs.

Extract sand from around the concrete element and dry it.

Raise level of sand in steel element to 0.5 cm. from top edge.

Bury the heating element deeper under the sand.

New blanket (action by artist).

Remove ‘do not touch’ card and replace it by ‘touch’.

Maintenance of concrete element:

Regular removal of leaves from inside concrete element.

Clean off algal deposit at least 2x per annum at the same time as from work by Wang Jung Ping.


Latest news
A condition report of the concrete element - after cleaning - has been made. This brought to light the earlier treatments (at the time the work was removed from its old place to the Kröller-Müller Museum) which have been registered. Another treatment (removement: old repairs / rebonding and filling) will follow in Spring 2001 which again will be reported and be added to this file.

The technical possibilities for removing the two legs in the centre of the rib will be examined (not an easy thing to do considering the weight of the element’s content) and be reported upon (both examination and treatment).

Balka has informed me that he bought a new blanket.

 

This report has been approved by Miroslaw Balka.

 

Andrée van de Kerckhove is Head of Collections, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo.