Washington, January 2011
1.What is Monumento Minimo, and what kind of statement is it intended to make?
Minimum Monument is a urban intervention Project, in different cities and countries. Hundreds of ice sculptures are taken to central places of cities and with help from the passers-by they are left to melt. The sculptures are tiny men and women, 20 cm tall, placed on stairways. The urban intervention is called “Minimum Monument”, because its meaning is tied up to the concept of the monument – it is an antimonument. I search reconciliation between the public and private spheres, the subject and the city. In this search I’ve found in the pubic monument the synthesis of my uneasiness: the historical celebration far from the ordinary man. I then subverted, one by one, the characteristics of official monuments. The scale is minimal – hence the name, “Minimum Monument”, there is no pedestal either hierarchy, the homage is rendered to the anonymous. The ice bodies disappear in the city, in a shared experience. The happening remains on the viewers’ memories and their pictures. Recently the images started to appear on the World Wide Web and were named “Melting Men” by internet users. It also grabbed the attention of WWF Germany, who invited me to do an intervention in Berlin to raise the awareness for the climate change effects. I believe as the reading of an art piece is open, it is valid to see my work as a contemporary monument reminding us of the changes that can threatens our life in the planet.
2. How long has the art project been running? Where have you done it? The Project begun on 2001, when I was doing my masters in visual arts at the Arts Institute of São Paulo State University - UNESP/2001-2003. I’ve started my project doing just a couple of ice sculptures, roaming around cities and placing them in significant public places, watching them melt and registering the process with pictures. In this first phase of my project, I went to nine cities - Campinas, São Paulo, Brasília, Curitiba e Salvador (Brazil), Havana (Cuba), México City (Mexico), Tokyo and Kyoto (Japan). In 2005 I started placing a small multitude of sculptures at central places of the cities, like the foundation site or main squares. Initially I put 290 sculptures in Praça da Sé, the main central plaza of São Paulo. Then I placed 500 at L’Opera (Paris, France/2005), 500 in Burgplatz (Braunschweig, Germany/2006), 600 at Municipal Theatre stairs in São Paulo (Brazil/2006). In 2007 I placed 1000 men at Praça D. João I (Porto, Portugal) and in 2008 there were 1200 melting at Piazza della
Santissima Annunziata (Firenze, Italy). In 2009, I placed 1000 of them in Berlin, at Gendarmenmarket. Finally, in 2010 I took 1300 to melt at the Article Biennale opening, in Stavanger, Norway. As I place more and more sculptures, the experience of the melting process is amplified; it creates sort of a poetical interruption in everyday life, like a rite. Particularly the city foundations rites, as narrated by the historian Fustel de Coulanges.
3.How do you make the ice figures? And how do you transport them?
The sculptures are made in specially developed moulds, taken to freezers and after frozen, they are carefully individually retouched during the days that precede the intervention. As there are a large number of these sculptures, they are stored in several freezers. Then these freezers are taken to the streets and the sculptures are placed by the local population.
4.About how many figures do you use in one “performance”? (installation/event/exhibition?)
I started with 300, in 2005, and it reached 1300 sculptures in september of 2010. 5. Where was your most recent event? The last intervention was on september 15th, 2010. The Minimum Monument opened the Article Biennale, in Stavanger, Norway– http://www.article.no/en