When two matchstick heads are fused together they form a delicate wishbone shape. A manufacturing anomaly such as this will occur rarely and might even be less common than a four-leaf clover in a clover patch. In a sense, coming upon fused matchsticks makes one lucky. For Special Delivery 2010, Jon De Simone was intrigued by this rare error and recreated 20 ornate multiples of fused matchsticks to distribute in this mail art project. Orange and yellow paint coat the heads of each matchstick, while metallic Mylar paper adorn the stems. In their square plastic cases, the pieces fit neatly in your palm, which is the best way to feel the fragility of the sculpture’s structure.
It’s a neon poem. Some of the great uses of artmaking are bound in Jon’s piece. These multiples highlight the extraordinary in what might seem like the ordinary. Well, a fused pair of matchsticks is extraordinary but not many would notice them as such. Through bright colors, Jon pinpoints that uniqueness in the simplest object—a barely noticed part of life.
This whole conversation recalls Cullen Murphy’s essay “Out of the Ordinary,” in which he writes of a certain path to enlightenment, “the mundane studies approach.” In this, “something seemingly unremarkable (a kind of food, an article of dress, a body part) […] derives a larger world of meaning.” He goes on to describe the many essays, books, and studies that have stemmed from topics such as dust, potatoes, and paperclips.
As an art maker producing a sculptural text, Jon works similarly to those propelling mundane studies. He directs our attention to an object that would otherwise only be viewed as a production error. Meanings in the matchsticks are open for viewers to create.