Little Match Girl, or Merry Europe


… In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall; she had been frozen to death on the last evening of the year; and the New-year’s sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. ‘She tried to warm herself,’ said some…’

The Little Match-Seller’ by Hans Christian Andersen (1846)


It is somewhat controversial to display a project that draws inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen’s story ‘The Little Match-Seller’ during this jolly time of the Year – the time of Christmas and New Year, when presumably neither the art-world nor the world of diplomacy would like to be sharply reminded that there are still many people on the verge of existence today.

Prlja displays a project that considers ‘The Little Match-Seller’ not only as a fictional story but as a reflection of a reality, that was not farfetched in 1846, when the story was written and is still a reality today at the beginning of 2008. Let us therefore all help in our own particular way, to ensure that the shameful content of this story exists only within the world of this somber fairy tale. This should be the true purpose of the engagement of both worlds – the art-world and the world of diplomacy.

The exhibition comprises of two elements. The first is a site-specific installation, wherein a decorated Christmas tree is enclosed within the gallery space, the entrance to which has been temporarily obstructed. The installation is visible only through a hole pierced into the gallery door and externally, from the gallery window. The second art object is positioned on the doorstep of the European Commission; it draws it’s inspiration directly from ‘The Little Match-Seller’.

Images from the site specific installation: ‘Little Match Girl, or Merry Europe’ solo exhibition by Nada Prlja, European Commission in UK, London. 15.12.2007-07.01.2008


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‘Little Match Girl, or Merry Europe’
Sites specific installation
Burned matches, match boxes, fake snow, dimensions variable.
In the corner of the door of European Commission (outside of the gallery) in London, burned matches, match boxes and snow was positioned. The installation is simulation of the final scene of the children’s story by Christian Andersen – ‘ The Little Match Seller’.


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