A tiny human figure made of ice melts into the river where its body began. Elsewhere in the world, thousands of its brethren are melting on the steps of cathedrals, on park benches, and at the edges of crowded sidewalks. Where do they come from? Where will you see them next? We've got a gallery of these strange humanoids, and the poetic story behind their creation.

Nele Azevedo freezes hundreds of tiny human figures and arranges them in public places in big cities around the world, including in her home Sao Paulo. Sometimes she invites passerby to help her position the figures. But she always sets them up near monuments or city centers. The project is called Minimum Monument. Her point, she says, is to remind people that the city isn't just official monuments designed to last centuries. It's also filled with tiny, ephemeral monuments - like her melting ice sculptures, or like human beings themselves. Beauty is in the present instant, not in the eternal. It's in the anonymous figures of the city, not the statues with their official labels and dates.

Azevedo writes:

The Minimum Monument project is a critical reading of the monument in the contemporary cities. In a few-minutes action, the official canons of the monument are inverted: in the place of the hero, the anonym; in the place of the solidity of the stone, the ephemeral ice; in the place of the monumental scale, the minimum scale of the perishable bodies.

The project started with solitary figures, later a multitude of small sculptures of ice were placed in public spaces of several cities. The memory is inscribed in the photographic image and shared by everyone. It is no longer reserved to great heroes nor to great monuments. It loses its static condition to gain fluidity in the urban displacement and in the change of state of the water. It concentrates small sculptures of small men, the common men.

Sometimes paying attention to the present is one of the most futuristic things you can do.

Nele Azevedo's site (via NPR) Thanks, Bec!