Melting Monuments Celebrate The Momentary : The Picture Show Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo puts hundreds of ice sculptures in city centers and watches them melt.
NPR logo Melting Monuments Celebrate The Momentary

Melting Monuments Celebrate The Momentary

In 2001, Nele Azevedo started putting ice sculptures in city squares and major plazas and took photos of them as they melted. The Sao Paulo-based artist began with only a couple of sculptures per city, then started placing more and more — hundreds of temporary sculptures in cities around the world, from Havana to Tokyo to Paris. For her most recent "urban intervention," in Stavanger, Norway, the number of ice figures on display reached 1,300.

Azevedo's project is called Monumento Mínimo (or "Minimum Monument"); it explores the idea of the "anti-monument," subverting the characteristics of official monuments in public places.

"The homage is rendered to the anonymous," she writes in an e-mail. "The ice bodies disappear in the city, in a shared experience."

The ice figures are frozen in molds, and are then individually retouched and stored in freezers that she transports to the site of the intervention, where anybody can take part in placing the sculptures on steps and ledges. The effect is striking: hundreds upon hundreds of delicate figures disappearing into puddles in a celebration of the temporary.