Academic thesis

Sarah Jahns: A Game with Volatility - Periodic Activation as Conservation Strategy for the Fluxus Multiple Perfume Chess 4/4 (1977/78) by the artist Takako Saito Back
Language: Original   -   Translation
Abstract: The subject of this thesis is a multiple by the artist Takako Saito with the title Perfume Chess 4/4 (1977/78), an interactive Fluxus object which is played via sense of smell. It consists of a hinged wooden box which serves two purposes: it is used to store 32 identical glass flacons and, when opened and turned around, also serves as the chessboard. The flacons are filled with six different fragrances which represent the chess figures pawns, rooks, knights, bishops, queens and kings.
As a result of evaporation and oxidation processes of the fragrances, the remaining substance in the flacons is dried up and strongly discoloured. Additionally, glue residues of a previous repair on a broken flacon are yellowed.
An in-depth examination and documentation of the object was carried out, with a focus on the range of effects the object can convey and on the discrepancy that ensued between the artistic concept and the work in its current condition. Based on the artist’s view on the object, various preservation strategies are discussed. The decision-making process includes aesthetic, art-historical and curatorial standpoints as well as contextual aspects of the object. Further influential factors were also taken into account when developing a conservation-restoration strategy that allows for an activation of this work. In addition to carrying out several restoration measures, the development of an activation report - for the time-limited refilling with new fragrances in the duration of an exhibition of Perfume Chess 4/4 - is an important means for preserving the Fluxus character of this object.


Keywords: activation, artist interview, decision-making, ephemeral, Fluxus, fragrances, glass bonding, odour, volatility, Takako Saito (*1929)
  • academic institution: Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien
  • kind of theses:  Diplomarbeit
  • main Tutor:  Univ.-Prof. Mag. Gerda Kaltenbruner
  • assistant Tutor:  Mag. Karin Steiner
  • date:  2019
  • Language:  German
  • pages:  175
  • pictures:  177

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