Olafur Eliasson Prepares Ice Watch Installation For Paris Climate Summit Unveiling

Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson is preparing his glacier, ice installation, Ice Watch, which is to be placed in the Place de la République, in Paris, to highlight Climate Change during the COP21. The visual artist, in collaboration with distinguished geologist Minik Rosing, have announced the unveiling for Wednesday. The  launch of this major public artwork on display is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and realised in partnership with cre- ative sustainability charity Julie’s Bicycle, Ice Watch showcases 80 tonnes of ice from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland with the aim of inspiring public action against climate change.

Harvested from free-floating blocks of ice, the work will be arranged in a clock formation on the Place du Panthéon on Thursday, 3 December 2015, while world leaders and their climate teams gather in Le Bourget, Paris to discuss how to ensure a stable climate for future generations. In the days following, the ice will be allowed to melt in the square, offering the general public a glimpse at climate change on our planet.

“Today we have access to reliable data that sheds light on what will happen and what can be done,” said Olafur Eliasson. “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 cli- mate action.” 

Eliasson frequently alters the public’s perception of the environment through his art projects, addressing some of the world’s problems and proposing practical solutions. In 2012, together with solar engineer Frederik Ottesen,

he designed and launched Little Sun, a social enterprise that produces and distributes solar-powered LED lights. The lanterns are designed to provide

a safe, healthy solution for the nearly one quarter of the world’s population that do not have access to electricity.

“From my visit to the Arctic last year, I have a very lively memory of the hor- rifying noise and sight of huge ice blocks cracking and breaking away from the pack,” said Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and In- ternational Development, and President of COP21. “The Arctic is indeed the gatekeeper of climate disorder: for years, this region has been sending us signals that we cannot neglect anymore. The international community must hear them and turn them into acts.”

“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,” said Minik Rosing, Professor of Geology, the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. “Science and technology have made it possible for us to destabilise Earth’s climate, but now that we under- stand the mechanisms behind these changes, we have the power to prevent them from growing.”

“Ice Watch is a great example of how public art can draw attention to big challenges and spur people to action,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and three-term Mayor of New York City. Michael Bloomberg also serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and is co-hosting the Climate Summit for Local Leaders with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo at Paris City Hall on 4 December.

Depending on weather conditions, Ice Watch is expected to be on view until 11 December, the last day of the conference. Remaining ice will then be brought to local schools and cultural institutions as part of an extended com- munity educational programme.

The project will be realised in collaboration with Julie’s Bicycle, a leading not-for-profit organisation advocating for sustainability in the cultural and creative industries. Ice Watch is featured on ArtCOP21 with over 300 other arts events, which are supporting the talks as well as a symposium for cul- tural policy makers facilitated by COAL, On the Move and Julie’s Bicycle.

It is a core project of the initiative Artists4ParisClimate2015, which aims to mobilise public opinion around climate change, through interventions in pub- lic space by major international artists: www.artists4parisclimate2015.com. On 9 December, a charity auction will be conducted at Christie’s Paris, with artworks being sold to support a range of actions with UN supported NGOs to combat desertification and climate change in Africa, Asia, and Latin Amer- ica.

“I am delighted to support this exciting and positive initiative, which will not only help those most vulnerable to climate change through the donation of funds raised, but also help to promote COP21 as a critical opportunity for nations to adopt a durable universal climate agreement,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “I hope that the artwork can inspire ambitious choices which lead to combatting both climate change and desertification.” 

Olafur Eliasson: Well-known for his 2003 installation The weather project, at Tate Modern London, which was seen by over two million visitors, and for Contact, his recent exhibition at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s work spans from photography and film to sculpture, instal- lation, and architecture. Established in 1995, his Berlin studio today numbers about 90 craftsmen, architects, and art historians. 


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