Technique and condition

A room installation consisting of: an assemblage of wooden cabinets with shelves filled with empty glass, plastic and cardboard medication packaging; desks and chairs with telephones and stationery; an electric insect-o-cutor hanging from the ceiling in the centre of the room; four kick stools with four porcelain bowls containing honeycomb pieces filled with resin simulating honey and; four large apothecary glass bottles filled with coloured liquids.

There are twenty-two wooden cabinets; three have fixed closed doors, nineteen have sliding glass doors. On average, there are ten removable shelves per cabinet and two fixed ones; they are filled with thousands of medication boxes and bottles. As with the wooden desks, the surface of the cabinets is finished with white melamine.

The cabinets and desks were fabricated for the Tate Gallery display of 1999. The cabinets and desks are reassembled for display. The insect-o-cutor is attached to the ceiling with two metal chains using an aluminium pole, itself suspended by four wire cables. The coloured liquids in the glass bottles are food colourings and need to be replaced by fresh solutions at intervals during display as they tend to discolour and smell bad. The bottles are cleaned and disinfected before pouring fresh liquid in them.

Some medication packaging had been crushed or broken due to previous packing conditions. During the installation of the work in 1999, some boxes were consolidated.

Michèle Lepage
May 2000