Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Miroslaw Balka: Oasis (C.D.F.) 1989

Oasis (C.D.F.) 1989
Mixed media, displayed: 3730 x 3763 x 4510 mm, sculpture

This multi-part installation is composed of fourteen wooden parts, one of which is attached to the end of a rain pipe and supports a small metal tray which contains an electric water pump that has milk running from it. A free standing bed unit is partially filled with pine needles and a doorsill sits on the floor in the foreground. Some of the parts are mounted on a wall while others sit directly on the floor in positions determined by the artist.

In response to a questionnaire sent in November 1999, the artist revealed that he used old, weathered wood from his house in Otwolk. The pieces of wood are rough and textured with cement residues, plaster and other filling materials. There is also some paint in localised areas. As the artist explained in January 2000, he applied black paint on the top of the coffin and painted the black leaves himself. The bottom left vertical plank of the house frame is decorated with a fixed metal flower ornament whereas the equivalent right-hand plank is decorated with a pencil drawing of another flower. The coffin piece comes from another sculpture, River, which the artist modified by cutting and assembling it. The sculpture has been assembled mostly using nails. The tin-plate metal tray has welded joints and is meant to slide in and out of the drain pipe section that supports it. Screws are used to fix the parts that are mounted on the wall.

There are hand-written inscriptions on the back of most of the wooden pieces and on the cardboard pieces under the plywood in the bed, mainly giving the artist’s name, work’s title and instructions for installation. Most of the planks have been given a letter and indications as to where to position them.

When the work arrived, the metal tray was quite rusted. The existing water pump (not original to the work) and wiring were considered dangerous. There was a small broken and detached piece at one extremity of the drain pipe and some of the wooden pieces had noticeable splits. There was flaking of filling and paint materials, and some pine needles were falling through the gaps along the interior sides of the bed. However, the artist wants to maintain the weathered aspect of the work. The metal tray was cleaned and the holes in the tin plate repaired by soldering. The surface was then coated for protection. The water pump and wiring were replaced and the broken piece was repositioned and fixed. Brown tape was installed along the interior edges of the bed in order to prevent the pine needles from falling through the gaps in the plywood board.

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