Les vœux de l’amour fou numéro 2, 2020 – 2024

Pauline Curnier Jardin & Feel Good Cooperative, Les vœux de l’amour fou numéro 2, 2020 – 2024, Candles, drawing made by Feel Good Cooperative with ink and gouache on paper, Dimensions overall variable, Candle: 168 × 25 × 25 cm, Drawing:: 41.5 × 31.5 cm

The Les vœux de l’amour fou is a series consisting of unique candles manufactured by Gambino, a famous candlemaker in Catania, and christened by a priest before being re-assembled by Pauline Curnier Jardin and Feel Good Cooperative with adornments of fabric, drawings, and other mixed-media materials. The yellow hue of the candles is a signature of Gambino that, for Curnier Jardin and the collective of sex workers, resembles various bodily fluids during the melting process. The ongoing collaboration between Curnier Jardin and Feel Good Cooperative began during the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, when sex workers were disproportionately disadvantaged through statewide regulations. Instead of being paid for sexual acts, Curnier Jardin paid the sex workers for drawings (usually sexual in nature). 

Originally intended to be carried during the procession of St. Agatha in Catania, the 80kg candle conjures notions that St. Agatha is the patron saint of breast cancer patients, victims of sexual abuse and of the region’s Mount Etna volcano, which erupted in a more violent way after the martyr’s annual procession was postponed due to COVID-19. Following countless stories of the city of Catania being protected from lava by St. Agatha, the eruption in 2021, itself loaded with sexual imagery, covered the city of Catania in ash as if the whole city had been burned. 

Various iterations of this work have previously been presented at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin in 2022 for the Curnier Jardin’s Preis der Neuen Nationalgalerie exhibition, at Art Basel Statements with Ellen De Bruijne in 2021, and at Miart with ChertLüdde in 2024.