While world leaders and politicians negotiated how to limit global warming during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosign were busy arranging 12 massive pieces of ice, collectively weighing 80 tons, appropriated from Greenland, in front of the city's Place du Pantheon.
Installed as a circle of icebergs with a circumference of 20 meters (65 feet), Ice Watch Paris, part of the Artists 4 Paris Climate 2015 initiative, mimics both the clock face and the architecture that supports the dome of the mausoleum behind it. Eliasson hopes that by bringing the ice, dated to be thousands of years old, to the general public, people will be encouraged to think about the rate at which the Arctic is melting.Passersby are encouraged to put their ears to the pieces to hear the pops and cracks of the ice releasing some of the earth's purest air. "It is a little pop that has travelled fifteen thousand years to meet you in Paris, and tell the story of climate change," Eliasson told
The project began in early Oct., when Eliasson set out with Kuupik Kleist, Greenland's former Prime Minister, to find dozens of icebergs made of compressed snow that had separated from glaciers, in a process called "calving." Located in a fjord, a narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, outside Nuuk, Greenland, the icebergs were lassoed by divers and dockworkers, who then attached them to the ship, and dragged back to port. After being transferred by a shipping container to Denmark, a 10-hour truck journey got them to their final destination in Paris.
Ice Watch made its debut last year in Copenhagen. The artist installed a "trial run" outside the Town Hall while the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was being written. François Zimeray, the French Ambassador to Denmark, prompted Eliasson to bring the installation to Paris.
"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,” said Eliasson on the Artist 4 Paris Climate 2015 website.
First installed on Dec. 3 and projected to last a mere two weeks, the melting ice reminds the public of the dangers of a melting planet.