Jimmie Durham’s sculpture Still Life with Spirit and Xitle (2007), which arrived at its new home outside the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, in August, will look very different in the future. The work consists of a nine-tonne volcanic boulder dropped on to the roof of a black Chrysler Spirit, a car frequently used by undercover police in Mexico.
But conservators quickly realised that the car would rust and would eventually need to be replaced. When that day comes, the artist has proposed swapping it for a Lincoln Town Car—the vehicle of choice of the US Secret Service when protecting presidential motorcades. “It would propel the work’s meaning in a totally different direction to the one it had in Mexico,” where it was originally commissioned for a local collector, says Stéphane Aquin, the Hirshhorn’s chief curator.
Meanwhile, the Hirshhorn’s chief conservator, Gwynne Ryan, has consulted geology experts from the National Museum of Natural History about how to use infrared scanning to monitor moisture in the cracks of the volcanic rock.
• The US-born, Europe-based artist’s first North American retrospective is due to open at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in January 2017. It will travel to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York