“Put your hands on the ice, listen to it, smell it, look at it - and witness the ecological changes our world is undergoing” - Olafur Eliasson
The artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing installed ‘Ice Watch’ in front of the Tate Modern this month. The project launched on 11th December, coinciding with the meeting of world leaders at the COP24 climate change conference in Poland. The installation follows previous iterations in Copenhagen and Paris, and is one of two of Eliasson’s Ice Watch pieces in London, the other being outside Bloomberg’s European headquarters (as it is being funded by Bloomberg). A group of twenty-four blocks of ice were taken from the Nuup Kangerlua fjord in Greenland after having become detached from the ice sheet. Icebergs such as these are becoming increasingly common as a result of global heating, which then contributes to rising sea levels.
The estimated energy cost of bringing one of these blocks to London from Greenland is the equivalent of a single person flying from London to the Arctic and back to witness the melting ice caps. Eliasson and Rosing hope that in bringing the blocks to London, many more people will understand the reality of climate change by experiencing the project.
It is hoped that this project will allow people to have a physical experience of the conditions of melting ice caps. In Greenland, increasing average temperatures have caused the ice sheet to decrease by about 200-300 billion tonnes per year, however this is expected to increase dramatically in the future. In bringing these blocks to London and creating a temporary exhibition, Eliasson and Rosing enable visitors to engage directly with the ice as it melts away. In allowing actual engagement with the ice blocks, Eliasson hopes to inspire a push for systemic change in climate action: “let’s transform climate knowledge into climate action.” The exhibition ends once “the ice has melted”.