I started the matchstickmen series in late 2007 early 2008. At that time I was working in Beijing. During my stay I was asked to do some dummies for a movie production. I had never done anything like this before and my work – until that point – was not very often dealing with the human figure. I just did some figurative works when I did the twin series. After the movie production I had those head molds still sitting on a shelve in my studio and played around with some bamboo pieces I had sitting there as well. In the beginning they looked more like poled heads. I was quite impressed and shocked by some photos of the massacre the Japanese did in Nanjing during their occupation. There is this photo of chopped off heads lined up on a tree trunk. The human head looks very different when being disconnected with the body, which I find very interesting as a sculptor. So I played around with those heads and ended up with those human matches.
Some people see them in a kind of pop art way but that is not what I am interested in. Just making a giant match wouldn’t be very interesting for me and it has been done already anyway. My matchstickmen are more of a metaphor for a lifespan which ran out – a waste of human resource, exploitation of ourselves and others. Facing those matchstickmen one might be reminded that we have only a certain lifespan ahead. Some of us burn longer some less. If we would keep that in mind we might start to ask ourselves questions about the human existence and our purpose of being here. Some of the faces have a very relaxed expression while others look tortured, which also reflects on the different ways of dealing with life. But I also think they have some funny aspects. I like the idea of taking the word matchstick head literally.
Post by Wolfgang Stiller, wolfgangstiller.com