"At this point there is nothing further that can be done with them, except to freeze them."
No, this is not the LA coroner talking about a certain pop star's endlessly resculpted parts, but the Walker Art Center's associate registrar, Joe King, talking about two works by Joseph Beuys in its collection, which are made from plastic that is starting to deteriorate.
This information comes from Weeping Barbie Syndrome Strikes Walker Art Center, posted by writer Marianne Combs on her State of the Arts blog for Minnesota Public Radio News on July 6. Combs, aware of the post on Slate.com (see below) went to the Walker to find how the institution's plastic works are faring. That's when she learned that when PVC deteriorates, the plasticizer in the material migrates outward, making the surface wet and sticky (first noticed on the pre-astronaut bambola); that outgassing can also damage adjacent works; and that the Beuys works are in freezer lockdown.
What do Barbie and Beuys have in common?
On July 1, Slate.com's Sam Kean asked and answered this question: Does Plastic Art Last Forever? Not Even Close. Apparently it cracks, browns, melts, weeps and smells. Oh, and it can explode, too.
Thanks to my blogosphere buddies C-Monster and Hrag Vartanian for their links to these stories. (And a shout out to Hrag for noting my review of Ed Winkleman's book in the same group of posts.)