Equilibrium:

One Ball Total Equilibrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J 241 Series)

Artist: Jeff Koons
installation | Glass, steel, sodium chloride reagent, distilled water, and basketball | 1645x781x337mm | 1985

The stillness of this gravity-defying basketball continues to surprise viewers nearly thirty years after its debut. Koons could have created the effect by submerging the ball in a viscous liquid such as silicon, but he insisted on using water in order to maintain the purity of the sculpture and his viewer’s trust in it. In consultation with the Nobel Prize–winning physicist Richard P. Feynman, Koons realized that by first filling more than half the tank with a solution of highly refined salt and distilled water and then filling the ball itself with distilled water, the ball would float on the heavier substance; he then poured more distilled water into the top portion of the tank. This precise equilibrium, however, does not last forever. Temperature fluctuations and vibrations from viewers’ footsteps blend the solutions of water, ultimately causing the ball to sink. For Koons, the inevitability of this failure provides the work’s theme of perfect balance with a poignant counterpoint of instability.

Exhibitions

Jeff Koons - A Retrospective | 2014.06.27 - 2014.10.19 | Whitney Museum of American Art (old museum)(New York City, NY, United States)
APPEARANCE STRIPPED BARE - DESIRE AND THE OBJECT IN THE WORK OF MARCEL DUCHAMP AND JEFF KOONS, EVEN | 2019.05.19 - 2019.09.29 | Museo Jumex(Mexico City, Mexico)

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