Plan for Returning Vostell’s Car to Campus

Phase 1

We are currently in what we might call Phase 1, which aims at structural stabilization and includes the various testing that Alice Kain (Campus Art Coordinator, Smart Museum) is organizing with the guidance of Christian Scheidemann and myself.

  1. The ground penetrating radar test (GPR) will tell us how thick and dense the concrete is and where the metal substructure lies; the half cell potential test runs an electrical current through the metal substructure and will tell us about levels of corrosion. There is the possibility to test the concrete itself by taking 3 or 4 core samples from the underside of the car and examining the composition of the concrete, but we are still debating the necessity of this further analysis.
  2. There will also be a full and detailed conservation condition check made by the engineers recording every crack in the concrete- the length, depth, location etc. This full-scale report will be helpful as we begin to understand if the concrete is actually deteriorating or if the cracks are stable and inherent. This in turn will be useful for monitoring and making plans for the conservation in the future.

Thereafter we plan to work with both concrete specialists and a structural engineering firm to stop further damage and stabilize the structure well enough to bring the car back to the University of Chicago campus. The decisions at this stage all revolve around balancing stabilization and further damage with interfering with or changing the artist’s intent. The aim is to discuss and make a decision about these matters, if possible, at and/or following the fall October 18, 2013 workshop.

Watch video of WJE conducting Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) test on Concrete Traffic, Oct 4, 2013.

Phase 2 will include the return to and siting of the work on the UChicago campus. The art historical requirement for identifying a suitable site is that it must be where a real car could be situated. We are considering a range of locations that are at this point very tentative and should not be made public yet.

Phase 3 will include repair of the concrete surface. We do not know yet whether we will actually implement this phase, and/or whether it will precede phase 2.