monuments

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Art

Hundreds of Melting Ice Figures Echo the Intensifying Threat of the Climate Crisis in Néle Azevedo’s Public Works

May 23, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Minimum Monument” (2014), Lima. All images © Néle Azevedo, shared with permission

Ephemerality has always been at the center of Néle Azevedo’s practice. The Brazilian artist is known globally for “Minimum Monument,” a collection of small ice figures that melt in situ.

First exhibited in São Paulo in 2005, the installation, which Azevedo dubs an “urban art action,” has found its way to cities like Paris, Belfast, Lima, and Porto. In each iteration, the artist carves hundreds of 20-centimeter-tall figures seated with their ankles crossed and places them atop outdoor steps and in public spaces. The faceless sculptures drip and pool into small puddles as time passes, which initially was Azevedo’s way of critiquing public monuments and taking “into account the history of the defeated, the anonymous, to bring to light our mortal condition.” The impermanence of the frozen substance directly contrasts the enduring nature of bronze, stone, and other materials typically used for statues and commemorative works.

 

“Minimum Monument” (2005), São Paulo. Photo © Marcos Gorgatti

With the intensifying climate crisis, though, the piece has acquired new meaning as a literal reflection of global warming and the way life will soon disappear from the planet. A statement about the decades-long project explains:

This urgency requires a paradigm shift in the development of governments of all nations to think of another model of development outside the current level of consumption. These threats also finally put Western man in his place, his fate is along with the destiny of the planet, he is not the “king” of nature, but a constituent element of it. We are nature.

A successor to “Minimum Monument,” Azevedo’s “Suspended State” (shown below) similarly gathers more than 1,000 ice figures and dangles them over pots, bowls, and other kitchenware equipped with microphones. “The sound is very important because it invokes that disappearance,” the artist tells Great Big Story. “The melting sculptures (create) a connection between a subjective self and a collective consciousness.”

Explore an archive of Azevedo’s works, including images of multiple iterations of “Minimum Monument,” on her site, and follow news about upcoming exhibitions and projects on Instagram.

 

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2009), Berlin. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2016), São Paulo. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Minimum Monument” (2020), Rome. Image © Néle Azevedo

“Suspended State,” São Paulo. Photo © Edouard Fraipont

“Suspended State,” São Paulo. Photo © Edouard Fraipont

 

 



Photography

Landscapes Altered by the World’s Largest Statues

May 5, 2014

Christopher Jobson

The Motherland Call, Volgograd, Russia, 285 ft, built in 1967

The Motherland Call, Volgograd, Russia, 285 ft, built in 1967

Towering above cities and carved into mountainsides, the gargantuan statues captured in Fabrice Fouillet’s series Colosses were designed to dwarf everything in proximity, to stand as timeless monuments of religious and political icons. Though unlike the tourists and pilgrims who travel great distances to witness these towering structures up close, Fouillet is more interested in how the landscape around each monument has been transformed. He shares via his artist statement:

The series “Colosses” is a study of the landscapes embracing those monumental commemorative statues. Although hugeness is appealing, exhilarating or even fascinating, I was first intrigued by the human need to build gigantic declarations. Then, I asked myself how such works could be connected to their surroundings. How can they fit in the landscapes, despite their excessive dimensions and their fundamental symbolic and traditional functions?

That is why I chose to photograph the statues from a standpoint outside their formal surroundings (touristic or religious), and to favour a more detached view, watching them from the sidelines. This detachment enabled me to offer a wider view of the landscape and to place the monuments in a more contemporary dimension.

Fouillet references a wave of “statuemania” in the 1990s in locations mostly around Asia where many more sculptures are still under construction. The world’s tallest monument, a tribute to the the independence hero Sardar Patel in India, will soon reach a soaring height of 182 meters, nearly twice that of the Statue of Liberty. You can see much more of the series over on his website. All photos courtesy the photographer. (via Slate)

African Renaissance Monument, Dakar, Senegal, 161 ft, built in 2010

African Renaissance Monument, Dakar, Senegal, 161 ft, built in 2010

Ataturk Mask, Buca, Izmir, Turkey, 132 ft, built in 2009

Ataturk Mask, Buca, Izmir, Turkey, 132 ft, built in 2009

Christ Blessing, Manado, Indonesia, 98.5 ft, built in 2007

Christ Blessing, Manado, Indonesia, 98.5 ft, built in 2007

Christ the King, Świebodzin, Poland, 120 ft, built in 2010

Christ the King, Świebodzin, Poland, 120 ft, built in 2010

Grand Byakue, Takazaki, Japan, 137 ft, built in 1936

Grand Byakue, Takazaki, Japan, 137 ft, built in 1936

Guan Yu, Yuncheng, China, 262 ft, built in 2010

Guan Yu, Yuncheng, China, 262 ft, built in 2010

Mao Zedong, Changsha, China, 105 ft, built in 2009

Mao Zedong, Changsha, China, 105 ft, built in 2009

Mother of the Fatherland, Kiev, Ukraine, 203 ft, built in 1981

Mother of the Fatherland, Kiev, Ukraine, 203 ft, built in 1981

Dai Kannon, Sendai, Japan, 330 ft, built in 1991

Dai Kannon, Sendai, Japan, 330 ft, built in 1991

 

 

A Colossal

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