Minimum Monument is an urban art action in public spaces, created by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo. Since 2005, Azevedo has been setting up her Minimum Monument in several countries around the world.
The project is a critical reading of the monument in the contemporary cities. It consists of thousands of ice sculptures that are taken to central places in cities and with help from the passers-by, are left to melt. The sculptures are tiny men and women, 20 cm tall.
In a few-minute action, the official canons of the monument are inverted: in the place of the hero, the anonym; in the place of the solidity of the stone, the ephemeral process of the ice; in the place of the monument scale, the minimum scale of the perishable bodies.
The project started with solitary figures, later a multitude of small sculptures of ice were placed in public spaces of several cities. The memory is inscribed in the photographic image and shared by everyone. It is not reserved to great heroes nor to great monuments. It loses its static condition to gain fluidity in the urban displacement and in the change of state of the water. It concentrates on small sculptures of small men, the common men. Although originally intended as a critic of the role of monuments in cities, environmentalists around the world are adopting her work as climate change art.
As the work has open reading Néle has created the Minimum Monument thinking of proposing another monument, a monument against the grain that takes into account the history of the defeated, the anonymous, to bring to light our mortal condition. She also thought about it as undertaking the occupation of public space. But it has encountered a worldwide issue, that is the environmental issue – that has become the most disseminated subject for the last years – therefore is has been understood as an alert to the dangerous threat of global warming as well, along with the consequent disappearance of human kind from the planet. Its kinship with that subject is evident.
Since 2009, when the intervention took place in Berlin with the support WWF, the Minimum Monument has presented as directly linked to global warming. Its affinity with the theme is clear and I think it can also be read as a "living monument" of contemporary issues, arousing interest beyond the contemporary art circuit.
Today, Néle’s believe the Minimum Monument answers to two questions:
1- The issue of global warming and the threatens posed by climate change on the planet that shows us an interdependence between different humans and puts us all in the same condition and in the face of a planetary urgency. 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.
2 - The issue of celebratory historical / celebration. The Minimum Monument also proposes another way of celebrating public memory on commemorative historical dates, such as in Belfast, Northern Ireland where the Minimum Monument was called to honor the victims of the Titanic and in Birmingham in England (2014) in commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.
Minimum Monument began as the object of master dissertation research in 2003. ‘An aesthetic proposal of the minimum inserted as a monument in the city’. The axis of poetic discussion and reflection is the intersection between local history and public monuments.