Home Uncategorized Washington DC of today too hot for Lincoln: Wax statue melts, turns...

Washington DC of today too hot for Lincoln: Wax statue melts, turns into a meme


What do you call a wax replica of a former president during an oppressive heatwave? A punchline waiting to happen. Originally installed at an elementary school in Washington, D.C., in Feb, the 6-foot wax version of the Lincoln Memorial was intended as a commentary on American monument culture.
Instead, it became a meme.
As temperatures in the region neared triple digits over the weekend, the replica’s head mostly melted off, turning the towering president into a droopy mess.People sharing the photos online could relate. To them, Abraham Lincoln looked as if he were reacting to an annoying work email or sinking into a couch after a long day. Jokes and innuendo abounded about why he was leaning back.
The work’s sculptor, Sandy Williams IV, said the online conversation highlighted something special about public art: It is open to interpretation, even when that interpretation is unexpected. The sculpture was not supposed to melt in the summer heat. Wicks are embedded into the wax, and viewers are invited to light one for a few minutes and collectively melt Lincoln over time. Williams said they used paraffin wax graded to withstand up to 140F. Temperatures in the region did not reach those heights, but they did set records. On Saturday, Baltimore’s high of 101F broke the record of 100 set in 1988.
Because Williams has worked with wax for years, they would often joke that their pieces would eventually need to focus on the environment instead of history. “I didn’t expect that point to be this past weekend,” Williams said. The work’s official title, “40 ACRES: Camp Barker”, refers to a Civil War-era “contraband camp” that was in practice a Union refugee camp for formerly enslaved people. (Garrison Elementary School, where the replica was installed, was once the original site for Camp Barker.) But Williams could not be too upset if the memes enabled more people to see it. “My hope is with this viral viewing of the work, any segment of the population seeing it will have a moment to spend more time with it and get to know these deeper histories the work is trying to engage,” he said.

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