We pass hundreds of street lights every day without giving them so much as a second glance. Even at night when the street lights flicker to life, it is the illumination that we care about. We welcome the pool of light that allows us to find our car keys or avoid stumbling off the curb. The source of the light- the giant electrical fixture suspended in the air over our heads- is usually ignored.
But it is impossible to ignore a certain street light in the city of Tilburg, Netherlands, that bends over the sidewalk in order to cast a halo above a marble statue of St. Francis of Assisi. This “Miracle” is not an act of God, but rather the name of this provocative public sculpture by Czech sculptor Krisoff Kintera on view in Tilburg, Netherlands for 500 days (the count began on Sept. 12 of this year).
We encounter hundreds of mundane objects in our day to day existence, but very few capture our attention long enough to be appreciated for their design. Yet, when we see these same banal objects out of context we suddenly look at them with fresh eyes. Few people studied the curved ceramic forms of a bathroom urinal until Duchamp stuck one in a gallery. Ultimately, Duchamp’s gesture was more about making a conceptual point about the nature of ‘beauty’- that you can find it in even the most mundane objects- rather than making a powerful work of art.
On the other hand, Kintera’s sculpture goes beyond the polemical because it not only appropriates a mundane object- the street light- but also transforms it like an alchemist into something magical: art. “Miracle” is itself a miraculous transformation of the ordinary into the extraordinary. “Miracle” is also a testament to the power of the subtle gesture.
Kintera uses the urban street lamp as the raw material for another sculpture, “My Light is Your Light”. Whereas Claus Oldenberg takes a mundane object, such as a baseball bat, and then scales it up to into a giant sculpture, Kintera finds objects that already have a giant scale and then presents them to us in a new way. “My Light is Your Light” takes giant street lamps and transforms them into the bulbs of an even bigger chandelier. The result is an object of magical realism.