It’s Melting

I read that there would be a temporary exhibition as part of the Festival d’Automne a Paris featuring sculptures made of candle wax. These sculptures would be lit on fire and left to slowly burn throughout the duration of the festival. I love the idea of art that changes over time; art that responds to its environment and is new each time it is experienced.

It was with these high hopes that I went to the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts to see the work of Urs Fischer, a Swiss artist who lives and works in New York. The exhibition was in the Chapelle des Petits-Augustins. Set amongst the backdrop of religious iconography, the sculptures slowly melt away.

I hoped that one would speak to the other; that the setting was chosen on purpose to inform the sculpture’s transformation in an enlightening way. That there would be a dialogue between the burning away of our mortal selves and the greater spiritual picture.

Yet, the relation here between the two seems tenuous and I was not surprised to learn that these same pieces have been shown over the world in various settings and that they were not sculpted here by Fischer himself.

There is something inherently beautiful in melting candle wax. That remains true. But for me, the exhibition was missing something beyond this simple truth. Why am I here, watching these candle wax people burn, and not home watching my own candles do the same? Where is the greater resonance I search for in art?

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