Lecture | Growing out of shape. An interpretation of the (contemporary) history of two sculptures by Bogomir Ecker. Analytical studies and concept of presentation
Elena Gómez-Sánchez, Nathalie Kesik
Abstract | Bogomir Ecker (born in 1950) created the multiple piece work of art „Prototypen II“ in 1991. Consisting of 163 objects gathered in 86 prototypes, the composition presents shapes and forms made out of various materials.
The ensemble is in property of the Hamburger Bahnhof, Museum for Contemporary Art, Berlin.
Two of these pieces, two funnel shaped figures, show dramatic differences from the originally intended form. After 17 years first material changes were observed and documented by the conservators of the Hamburger Bahnhof: Areas on the rim began to get tacky. This condition aggravated in a rather short period of time. Now the former stable figures have grown literally out of shape.
At the time of analysis, the sculptures had lost their rigidity, and had folded over themselves. The material was soft to the touch and could easily be trespassed by solid objects, the surface recovering its original aspect after a short period. Segregation of some of the constituting materials with time had also taken place. At some points, a colourless, slightly whitish substance could be noticed, and identified with a phthalate. At the contact points between the objects and a protecting film, dating from 2007, the film had broken cleanly.
Initially the rubber- like plastic was chosen by Ecker for its great freedom in modeling and for its specific character. The situation brings up fundamental questions- not only for the conservators but also for the owning museum and finally for the artist.
Certainly, this condition was not intended- but how can this material failure be integrated in a museum context? And what does the artist think about this idea? A replica is intended but, how should it be presented? In any case, any action should be accompanied by a visual documentation of decay and renewal.
The chemical composition of both sculptures was studied with the help of FTIR and GCMS; the results of these analyses will be presented in this paper, as will also a concept of presentation for both pieces.
Curriculum Vitae |
While finishing her PhD in Organic Chemistry in 2008 (Spanish National Research Council), she started her specialisation in conservation science at the Spanish Cultural Heritage Institute under the direction of Marisa Gómez and Marian García. She is currently scientific researcher at Rathgen Research Laboratory of the National Museums of Berlin. Her main interests are organic analysis by means of GCMS and FTIR, with a focus on polymer degradation. At the moment she is involved in the project KUR-ILKAR (www.ilkar.de).
Natalie Kesik is a Master student at the University of Applied Sciences, Berlin. She participates in the conservation and restoration class focussing on Industrial Heritage and Modern Materials. After graduating 2007 at the Hildesheim University of Applied Sciences and Art with a BA in the furniture conservation class she attended an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin. Certain degradation related phenomena of the design collection in the museum spawned interest for conservation topics regarding modern materials. During her studies in Berlin she has worked and researched on objects from the Museum der Dinge (Frankfurter Küche 1926 by Margarete Schütte- Lihotzky), the Berlinische Galerie (architecture models of the Victoria Areal, Berlin 1955) the Bergbaumuseum Bochum (Rescue Oxygen Apparatus Draeger- Model 1927) and the Museum europäischer Kulturen Berlin (rubber bathing cap, ca. 1930). She is currently preparing her master thesis on the conservation and restoration of natural rubber by examinig rubber sheets from the Hafenmuseum Hamburg. Latter is part of the research project Anti- aging treatment for cultural assets with elastomer components funded through the KUR- Programme for the Conservation of Moveable Cultural Assets.