Hyper-essay: the ephemeral

Selected projects: Ice Hotel & The Fragility of Time

The first thing that strikes me about both of these projects is the ephemerality of the artworks. Weeks, months, and maybe years of careful work and planning have been put into these projects, only for them to last perhaps a month or two at best.


The Fragility of Time 

Designer Ignacio Canales Aracil created these frail flower sculptures by pressing, drying and weaving wild flowers. No adhesive was used. The process is rough, compared to the fragility of the final result, and an adhesive is used to protect it from moisture.


Ice Hotel

This hotel is created by more than 50 people every winter.  Artists from all over the world arrive at the end of November to sculpt hotel decor from ice. In spring, the hotel melts away and returns to nature.

Both of these works clearly require meticulous handiwork and attention to detail. Ice Hotel also has a time limit, unlike The Fragility of Time. Artists have to finish their sculptures before the hotel is due to open for tourists to arrive. This puts their planning on a tighter limit than Aracil’s artwork.


We can put them both into Ramroth’s five phases of project management. They have a starting point – in the case of Ice Hotel, especially, it’s when winter comes around – and in both cases, the how and the what takes up the bulk of planning. What should they sculpt flowers or ice into? How will they do it?

Then there is the design phase, where they would have brainstormed and discarded various ideas before settling on a final concept. Finally they would begin sculpting under a time limit.

It is apparent that much planning has gone into both projects. Both projects have limited resources, and have some form of time limit, whether it is in the passing of seasons or in the fragility of flowers.

I can be sure of one thing: neither the Ice hotel nor Aracil’s flower sculptures could have come to pass without some form of project development and planning.