Artist Blog

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© Caroline Heinecke - Master of Things, Match with lost head

The Siamese, the Starved, the Split-Headed and the Crooked – Collection of Sick Matches by Frieder Butzmann

Dec 19, 2020 - Caroline Heinecke

A match with a lost head.
It is terminally ill and belongs to the species of headless. This useless match not only arouses the pity of the collector, but also touched me deeply when I saw it for the first time. While photographing it, I had to handle it with care and used tweezers to place the head in a suitable place. Besides the headless match, which turns out to be the “Blue Mauritius” of the collection, there are also the crooked, the split-headed, the starved, the Siamese and the ones with skin diseases.


"No two matches are alike. In terms of product appearance, the types of wood vary, which are sometimes coloured, the sizes are different, the match heads are red, white, blue, green or other colours, the stem is square, more rarely round, and so on. The individual match differs from the other only at second glance: The wood is spliced, fluctuating between square, round, hexagonal and flat slat, the head shapes lie in a continuum between steel helmet and pointed cap. And next to them, in the outermost recesses of the matchstick world, wait my favourites, the outcast individualists."

Frieder Butzmann is a composer, musician and performer from Berlin and has been collecting sick matches since 1995. The special thing about his collection is not only the pitiful objects but also the way his collection grows. It is getting bigger and bigger due to the many helpers in discovering sick matches, who have heard about his collection at some point and pick out a suitable object for his collection the next time they touch a matchbox. He then usually gets the woods sent to him in the mail from all over the world. The collection is actually more of an art object.

Right at the beginning of my research I came across the sick matches of Frieder, who also happened to be a musician in my record collection. Even more, I was happy that I was allowed to meet him personally and that he will be part of my work.


© Caroline Heinecke - Master of Things, Portrait of Frieder Butzmann

2005: Sick Matches for Matinée (SWR), Frieder Butzmann on his collection. (Only available in German)