Pretty Pity, 2022

Overall dimensions variable - Carrara: 137 x 157 x 158 cm; Giallo Siena: 139 x 163 x 163 cm; Marron Emperador Light: 137 x 203 x 180 cm; Rosa Valencia: 120 x 216 x 180 cm

Coinciding with Art Basel Miami Beach 2022, Alicja Kwade unveiled PRETTY PITY, a large-scale outdoor installation created in collaboration with ARCA, a global supplier of rare natural materials. Using precious stones, such as Rosa Valencia and Marrón Emperador from Spain, and Giallo Sienna and Bianco Carrara, from Italy, Kwade fashioned four scoops of ice cream that are in the process of melting under the heat of the south Floridian sun. Their playful arrangement – two scoops sit on top of one another, while the other two look as if they have fallen from a nearby cone – is underscored by the satirical contrast of the work’s solidity with the liquefying ooze they capture. According to the artist, “My efforts to understand and represent something I can barely grasp, and my failure to do so, bring forth my work.”

Global warming and the disappearance of the polar ice caps are hinted at, though Kwade is careful never to admonish. PRETTY PITY places the obdurate, sturdy, immovable, spherical objects that have occupied her in recent years into new terrain with the addition of bright colours and representational language. It is hard not to think of the recently passed sculptor of such object parodies, Claes Oldenburg, whose deflated and travestied sculptures effectively super-sized commodity forms, blowing them up into proportions and structures that were both absurd and painfully precise in their depictions.While ice cream is as ubiquitous today as electricity and water in Miami, the desert was once one of the rarest of treats, incredibly expensive to make for it required harvesting ice from mountain tops. The erosion of those cooler zones of the Earth’s climate is advancing with ever greater speed and force, and using mineral deposits from quarries in Europe, dressed up to look like melting scoops of ice cream, puts the entire cycle of extracting and erosion into a ludic display.

© Images Silvia Ros