Art has often been connected with the idea of permanence, and a lasting impression of an individual's creative spirit. It is quite rare that an artist paintstakingly creates something beautiful and then intentionally detroys it in an actual blaze of glory. By doing exactly that, Pei San Ng is an artist who has turned the artistic discussion of transience vs. permanence on its' (match)head.
Pei San Ng, a Taiwanese conceptual artist who lives and works in Chicago, often spends more than 24 hours meticulously arranging more than 2,000 matchsticks to create simple words and images only to light them on fire. Her conceptual art works on a number of levels, including the initial image as well as the deeper meaning that the viewer contributes. The potential for fire and destruction adds a final level, forcing collectors of her work to choose whether or not they will ever "perform" the work (i.e.- strike a match), and become participants in the artistic process.
Burning Mookie's Sneakers
Her designs are simple, such as the word "love", "desire", or a dollar sign. These words and images are given greater significance when placed in the context of fire. Love and desire can be destructive when they burn too brightly, and money can be all-consuming when too much importance is placed upon it. What at first glance may seem to be nothing more than a clever use of unique materials is actually a well-thought out and philosophically stimulating combination of art and life.
Unfortunately for Pei San Ng, her preferred material, Diamond brand's red-tipped matches were discontinued in 2010, and have been replaced with green tips. Much of the world is "going green", and perhaps Pei San will have to do the same. What new matchstick ideas might benefit from green rather than red?
Pei San Ng has been featured extensively in exhibits throughout Chicago, and held an exhibition in Houston, Texas last June. To learn more about her truly unique style, or to collect one of her pieces before they go up in flames, visit her website peisanng.com.
Images are owned by and used only with permission of the artist.
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