Fire! Few words are able to grab people’s attention like ‘fire’. Still, they don’t always flee the scene. Someone once told me that when there’s a big fire you see animals running away. People, on the other hand, are attracted by the flames. Our curiosity draws us towards the blaze. 

With the installation Sign we can see tongues of fire rising metres into the air. This captivating illusion, designed by the artist duo of Vendel & De Wolf, consists of bamboo poles covered with aluminium tape. When you point a light on them, the poles are transformed into a mass of flickering flames. The night air lights up in a spray of sparks. It’s a frightening and fascinating sight. And not just because flames are so spectacular. It’s also because fire equals destruction. And destruction leads to new beginnings. 

Fire turns sand into glass, dough into bread. It razes forests and makes the soil fertile at the same time. Fire can change everything in one fell swoop. And while you can run away from something like that – like a scaredy-cat – you can also step forward and embrace the new beginning. Maybe that’s why they called this work ‘Sign’. It’s a starting signal. Surrender to the blaze, stare into the flames of change.

About the artist

Artists Paul Vendel (1964) and Sandra de Wolf (1966) met during their studies at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy and have been working ever since. Their work, mostly installations, is often located in (semi) public spaces and is usually made especially for that location. The artists favour the use of recognizable and existing objects or materials. For Vendel and De Wolf their work does not have to be instantly recognizable as art, they strive to appeal to a wide audience.

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© Janus van der Eijnden