Tuesday 24 February 2015

Matchstick Men by Wolfgang Stiller

In 2013 German artist Wolfgang Stiller had been experimenting with art materials leftover in his studio from a movie production in china while he was residing in beijing.  This is when he began his matchstick project with moulds of Chinese faces and bamboo.

Here are some excerpts from an interview with Wolfgang Stiller:
"I had some head moulds sitting in my studio which were kind of left over from a mannequin production I did for a movie in China.  Back then, I was living in Beijing.  I also had some pieces of thick bamboo wood lying around from another installation that I had done. I was playing around with those two elements and after awhile the heads ended up on the bamboo sticks. The first Matchstick Men I did were round and less readable as Matchsticks.  Luckily the bamboo was bad quality and started cracking after awhile so I exchanged it with square lumber which is the final result you can see now."

"Since I am mainly interested in installation and especially in site specific ones, I started to develop an entire installation out of the single Matchstick Men. I built matchboxes and created different sizes of Matchstick Men.  The meaning and content of a work grows while I'm in the process of doing the physical work and it leads to more concrete directions about what the work is going to look like."

The Matchstick Men on display at Python Gallery in Zurich as part of the show 'Burnout'

"One could read those burned matches as worn out - or burned out human beings.  The installation can appear like a battlefield or just like some playground where someone played around with matches and dropped them. All the heads I've used so far are from Chinese people. This sometimes leads to the assumption that this is a criticism of the Chinese government.  One can read it that way, but I think this metaphor could be used for any western system as well. The matchboxes could be simply seen as formal elements within the installation, as coffins or simply as matchboxes.  I actually like to keep it open since I don't like art that leaves no space for one's own imagination. This is not a travelling exhibition.  Right now, I am having lots of exhibitions and it's exciting to create different installations with the Matchstick Men.  Every new space has its own character and asks for a different approach. I always get new ideas for new works with the Matchstick Men and I'll continue as long as I come up with something fresh."

Matchstickmen - Ausseninstallation in Dale, Norwegen 2013
Matchstickmen - Ausseninstallation in Dale, Norwegen 2013 photo by Monica J. Haugen



  1. Matchstick man is actually weird, what is the point of having that? How it helps one? Like what is its purpose? I feel it is pretty futile and bizarre to have it.

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