This research project deals with the conservation and restoration of an installation created by the French artist Ben Vautier titled In the spirit of Fluxus. This work of art belongs to the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and dates back to 1965-66/2003.
In the spirit of Fluxus consists of an accumulation of different objects, installed in a painted Vuitton® Wardrobe. Among the objects we found an Adidas® shoe, a Rod Laver model form the 90’s, which sole is in an advanced state of degradation. The scientific analysis performed by three different laboratories (the C2RMF, the INP and the CRCC), allowed the identification of the material composing the two different parts of the sole (the wear sole and the intermediate one). Both parts, which have two different densities, have been identified as polyurethane ester.
In a recent doctoral research, artificially degraded polyurethane ester foams have been successfully consolidated by means of aminoalkylalkoxysilanes (AAAS). During this preliminary study the application of the consolidant was made by immersion of the samples.
As the degraded polyurethane sole is too fragile to be consolidated by this procedure, another application method had to be investigated to allow the application of the AAAS consolidant without any manipulation. An optimal application technique would permit the maximum penetration of the consolidant into the foam without causing any stress on the material. Therefore, it has been decided to test the aerosolization with an ultrasonic nebulizer and the airbrushing techniques.
Two kinds of polyurethane ester foam recent samples, corresponding to the two different parts of the sole, have been supplied by BASF, the manufacturer that produces polyurethanes soles for Adidas.
ATR-FTIR and Py-GC-MS analysis showed that the chemical composition of the polyurethane samples from BASF was similar to that of the original material of the sole. The samples have been pre-aged for four weeks in an aging chamber, at 90°C and 50% of relative humidity. After the ageing
process, the degradation observed on the samples was visually and chemically similar to that of the original sole.
In order to have a surface even more similar to the surface of the sole from In the spirit of Fluxus, it was decided to remove the surface of half of the samples. Solutions of AAAS in HMDS solvent at three different concentrations (0,5%; 2,5%; 50% vol/vol) were applied on the pre-aged sample surfaces by aerosolization and airbrushing. Up to three consecutive applications of 20ml were performed. On some samples a pre-application of the solvent was made in order to verify if it would enhance the AAAS penetration.
After the samples completely dried, the mechanical properties and the color of the surfaces treated were monitored by indentation mechanical test and visible spectrophotometry, respectively. The AAAS distribution through the thickness of the samples was investigated by ATR-FTIR and SEM analysis.
The results of the tests performed and the restored sole from In The Spirit of Fluxus replaced in the original wardrobe will be presented.