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90 Tons of Glacial Ice Melt in Front of the Paris Climate Talks

Olafur Eliasson takes his 'Ice Watch' project to COP21.

Eight 11-ton blocks of glacial ice are en route to Paris to make a monumental statement about climate change adjacent to the UN conference on the subject, COP21. An assemblage of boats, cranes, and trucks are transporting the frozen obelisks from from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland, to the age-old capital of European culture, courtesy of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing. Since melting ice caps and rising water levels seem to be difficult for international policy makers and voters alike, the duo is literally bringing chunks of Arctic ice into plain view to display exactly what it looks like.

Eliasson and Rosing's public artwork, Ice Watch, will be arranged in the shape of a clock on Paris' Place du Panthéon Thursday, December 3 at 8:30 AM. In nearby Le Bourget, US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, and more discuss the future of the planet. The process channels Duchamp's readymades and the "found art" championed by Dadaists like Man Ray, but with an environmental cause.

“Today we have access to reliable data that sheds light on what will happen and what can be done,” Eliasson says. “Let’s appreciate this unique opportunity—we, the world, can and must act now. Let’s transform climate-knowledge into climate-action. As an artist I hope my works touch people, which in turn can make something that may have previously seemed quite abstract more a reality. Art has the ability to change our perceptions and perspectives on the world, and Ice Watch makes the climate challenges we are facing tangible. I hope it will inspire shared commitment to taking climate action.”

Bloc de glace flottant à Nuup Kangerlua, Groenland, Photo: Jørgen Chemnitz © 2015 Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson is known for simulating natural phenomena in his work, from sunlight in his Little Sun project, to flowing water in his Waterfalls series, or an eclipse in 2014's ContactLast year, he and Rosing brought chunks of glacial ice to Copenhagen's City Hall Square for an earlier rendition of Ice Watch, and now they're continuing the project for COP21.  

They expect the intallation to remain intact until December 11, when they'll remove any remaining ice and donate it to local schools and cultural institutions. Follow the ice blocks' journey from Greenland to Paris in the video below.

Remorquage du bloc de glace à travers de Nuup Kangerlua, Groenland. Photo: Jørgen Chemnitz © 2015 Olafur Eliasson

Extraction du bloc de glace flottant à Nuup Kangerlua, Groenland. Photo: Jørgen Chemnitz © 2015 Olafur Eliasson

Also watch our documentary on Olafur Eliasson's collaboration with Jamie xx and Wayne Macgregor, 'Tree of Codes'

Extraction du bloc de glace flottant à Nuup Kangerlua, Groenland. Photo: Group Greenland © 2015 Olafur Eliasson

Extraction du bloc de glace au port de Nuuk, Groenland. Photo: Jørgen Chemnitz © 2015 Olafur Eliasson

Chargement du bloc de glace au port de Nuuk, Groenland. Photo: Group Greenland © 2015 Olafur Eliasson

Learn more about Ice Watch here. See more of Olafur Eliasson's work on his website.

Related:

Make 'Contact' with Olafur Eliasson's Cosmic New Exhibition

[Video] Tree of Codes | The Creators Project Meets Wayne McGregor & Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson Plays with Two Tons of Lego Bricks

Anti-Gravity Dance Machine Proves Olafur Eliasson Just Has More Fun