Main Street Meltdown


Main Street Meltdown was another ice piece we did during the final week of the 2008 election. Like the other pieces, we launched a website called Main Street Meltdown simultaneously with the ice sculpture to upload stills, video and commentary, and to expand on its social dimensions.

Niels Van Tomme, co-currator of the exhibition Close Encounters interviewed us for his catalogue essay, text that follows is drawn from that.

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Main Street Meltdown, just hours after it was set up at Foley Square

In which way did you engage with your subject matter?

As the 2008 election drew to a close, we felt the need to draw attention to the economy and the impact of a recession, the connection between the costs of the Iraq war and its economic consequences on the U.S.

As we developed the project, and as the economic forecasts darkened, we decided to time it with the anniversary of the stock market crash of October 29, 1929, which caused the Great Depression, an anniversary coinciding with the final week of the 2008 election.

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Passersby stopped to witness Economy melting down

The temporary monuments we make from ice function as a stage, or public forum, that draws people. Ice is an enchanting and familiar material, it’s not precious by nature, so people feel that they can touch it, and freely interact with it.

Main Street Meltdown, Foley Square, New York from LigoranoReese on Vimeo.

One of the points, in making this work, was to gauge the public’s reaction to seeing the economy disappear before their eyes. The event becomes “a social sculpture,” which we sought to document by interviewing passersby and expand on the event through media, to give the physical dimensions of the work a virtual aspect through the Internet.

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As the piece continued to melt, the letters slowly cracked apart

The installation became a magnet for the media; it was a spectacle - the wire services, broadcast television, internet services all came to visit the site and witness the event. There’s very much an element of the absurd to seeing so many reporters standing around writing notes as ice melts.

After the Storm, print from Main Street Meltdown

"After the Storm," the print we made from Main Street Meltdown

What would you like to point to with Main Street Meltdown? What impact(s) are you aiming for?

We intended to illuminate a dire situation - the ailing Economy and the Bailout = in as public a setting as possible. On the eve of the most important election of our lives, we needed to highlight the coming tsunami.

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The economic crisis adds up to double zeros

What role(s) do you have in mind for the audience in this/your work?

We are provocateurs, in the sense that art allows people to comprehend the unthinkable, to break down walls, open windows, and push through doors. This is the role we are looking for.