In the midst of the holiday season, with record cold temperatures in parts of the world and Winter Solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year, upon us, I’ve been spending time studying work made with a simple organic material: Ice. Truth be told, despite spending my childhood in Minnesota, I now live in the desert, and the only ice I see is in my drinking glass. After studying art works made with ice as a central material, I am struck by a number of repeated inclinations by a number of artists. Much of the works I present here demonstrate that the transitory and temporal qualities of ice lend it to meaningful works about the body, time, climate, a sense of place and elements of endurance. Though this list is in no way exhaustive, artists included are: Marina Abramovic, Jay Atherton and Cy Keener, Nele Azavedo, Kirsten Justesen, Greatest Hits (a collective), Julie Rrap and Tavares Strachan.
Tatiana Blass built a human body that leans over the spine of a chair. She built this body out of wax and gave it a spotlight to shine; however, its glow not only illuminated, but also curdled the figure’s shape with heat. Arms broke off and bone emerged. Soon the body itself was only spine.
Spine against spine.
On another day, at another location or time, Blass built another body, a lying down one. The heat was not on the back, but instead rising from below. The body melted and there was no bone. Only a puddle of wax, something similar to where the body began.
The dissolution is the performance, the performer is the object: it moves to mirror our horror, to show its aliveness: our aliveness.
This concept of sculpture as a temporary structure feels relative to Urs Fischer’s own monolithic candlelit figures which also weaken over time. Both generate a sense of narrative that we relate to instantly– feelings of loss or devastation amidst chaos. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Wax to wax. What slips through our fingers: a certain temperature from day to day. We cannot gauge. An inevitable ritual.
The music must come to an end, and it does, especially for Blass’s other installation (video above), as Thiago Curry pounds five easy pieces on the keys, while two men pour melted paraffin into the grand piano.
At times called ‘performative sculpture’ Swiss artist Victorine Müller combines sculpture and performance art to intriguing effect. Her large but airy PVC sculptures stand ghost-like, glowing in the light and disappearing in the shadows. Müller herself sits or stands peacefully inside the sculpture. The title of her most recent exhibit “Wild at Heart” sheds some light onto her work. Müller temporarily inhabits the inside of an animal – the guts, the heart, the womb, the soul. Though simple, each performance connects easily with the viewers communicating, as Müller says “something that is not said and cannot be said, but that is.”
Choreographer, Willi Dorner, brought together a group of artists in New York to participate in his performance piece, Bodies in Urban Space. The artists go around to different parts of Manhattan to confine themselves together into architecturally specific shapes, conveying the idea of the restrictions we face physically, emotionally, and spiritually living in such a structure dominant space.
[ via fecal face ]