Large ice sculptures of the words Middle Class will melt away on the first day of the Republican and Democratic Conventions, in nearby public parks in Tampa and Charlotte. The work is by artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese. The sculptures they will install weigh over 2,000 pounds and measure 15 feet wide. Individual letters are 4 feet tall.
The artists call these sculptures “temporary monuments.” After unveiling them, Ligorano and Reese let them melt away and film their disappearance, which can take anywhere from 6 to 24 hours. The dates for the conventions, “do not bode well,” Reese says, “for the sculptures’ survival.” “They may disappear,” Ligorano adds, “even faster than usual. It’s a tossup whether, that’s due to economic or climatic conditions.
As the sculptures disintegrate, the artists document their destruction, creating still and moving images of broken words and letters. Ligorano and Reese are launching a dedicated website www.meltedaway.com, to which they will upload stills and video clips throughout the event with written commentary. “We see the website as a new type of documentary form,” Ligorano says, “incorporating words, still images and video.
This is the third public ice sculpture Ligorano/Reese have done. In 2008 they installed ice sculptures of the word Democracy at the conventions in Denver and St. Paul. On the 79th anniversary of the Great Depression, the same year, they melted down the word Economy on Foley Square, New York City, in front of the NY State Supreme Court building.
The artists are naming this year’s installations at the conventions after Ronald Reagan’s 1984 campaign. “’Morning in America,’” Reese says, “was a brilliant soft-sell advertising pitch with images of Americana almost as if Norman Rockwell had drawn the storyboards. 30 years later, one wonders if it really was the dawning or a new age or more like an eclipse into darker times. Certainly the Middle Class hasn’t fared well during that time.”
Tampa will be the first public performance of this piece, followed by Charlotte the following week.