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Fate I and Fate II. The conservation of two tapestries in polypropylene. New problems, new conservation strategies

Fate I and Fate II are two tapestries realised in 1969 by the Dutch artist Wil Fruytier by THE interweaving OF polypropylene thread of different colours...

Their display for over 30 years in public buildings without adequate climate control has produced rapid deterioration, manifesting itself predominantly in the loss of elasticity of the polypropylene fibres, which today are fragile and in many areas covered in dust.
The main cause of the deterioration is the great susceptibility of polypropylene to photooxidation determined by light and oxygen and accelerated by pigments such as titanium bioxide present in both works.
Here, the research project will be presented on the conservation of the two tapestries carried out at the Istituut Collectie Nederland (ICN) in Amsterdam. The objective of the project was to study and evaluate a treatment which is both preservative and protective in nature: a consolidating system containing heat stabilizers and UV radiation stabilizers capable of inhibiting the photodegredation of fibres. Moreover, due to the low surface tension of the polypropylene, a feature which prevents the adhesion of other substances to the polymer, methods were examined to increase their surface energy and thus to make the treatment possible.
The case studies under examination document how the use of plastic materials in an artistic environment might lead to conservation problems for restorers, scientists and conservers, problems which often demand new approaches and new intervention strategies.

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