Olafur Eliasson's 'Ice Watch'

Image courtesy Greenland Group

To mark the UN IPPC's 5th assessment on climate change Olafur Eliasson has created , a vast installation which sees him transporting 100 tonnes of ice from the Nuup Kangerlua Fjord outside Nuuk in Greenland, to Copengagen's City Hall Square. The duo choose 100 tonnes as this is the amount of inland ice that melts every hundredth of a second. This project has been carried out in partnership with Eliasson’s friend the geologist Minik Thorleif Rosing, who is professor of Geology at the Natural History Museum, Copenhagen University. 

The ice was shipped in four huge refrigerator containers and left to melt in this public area in Copenhagen. Eliasson and Rosing designed the piece as a comment on the politics that surround global warming, placing these huge blocks of ice in the centre of one of the busiest business and tourist areas in the Copenhagen — a reminder that the harm of global warming is somewhat already done and that international governments must now look to alternate sources of energy. 

The aim is for viewers to participate in Ice Watch, taking away with them a sense of political activeness and even rebellion. ’I hope that people will touch the inland ice on City Hall Square and be touched by it. Perception and physical experience are cornerstones in art, and they may also function as tools for creating social change.’ Rosing sees ice a metaphor for group political activism, commenting — ‘Ice is a wonderful, peculiar substance. Just as the progress of our civilisations has been tied to the coming and going of the ice ages, so, too, is our future destiny and the destiny of ice tied together. Through our actions we are now close to terminating the period of stable climate that served as the condition for civilisations to arise and flourish.’ 

Eliasson hopes the ice will encourage a sense of political community, ‘We are all part of the ‘global we’’ he said. We must all work together to ensure a stable climate for future generations.’

Find out more about the project . 

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