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‘What on earth is occurring with Earth?’ Olafur Eliasson on bringing ice blocks to London

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Ice artwork, child: Harvesting ice at Nuuk Port and Harbour, Greenland
© 2018 Olafur Eliasson

The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is bringing ice blocks harvested off the coast of Greenland to central London. Ice Watch, which was first put in in Copenhagen in 2014, adopted by Paris in 2015, consists of items of glacier that slowly soften to “make scientific information specific, so we are able to really feel it”, Eliasson tells The Artwork Newspaper podcast, launched tomorrow. “The concept is to make tangible what on earth is occurring, or, actually, what’s going on with Earth.”

Twenty-four blocks will probably be displayed outdoors Tate Trendy, the place Eliasson’s survey exhibition will open in July, whereas six extra will probably be positioned outdoors Bloomberg’s European headquarters within the Metropolis (Bloomberg Philanthropies is sponsoring the mission). It is timed to coincide with a gathering of world leaders on the COP24 local weather change convention in Katowice, Poland, and follows an alarming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change (IPCC), which gave the stark warning that now we have a 12-year window to restrict the worst results of local weather change.

The blocks have been responsibly taken out of the waters of the Nuup Kangerlua fjord the place they’d separated from the ice sheet. The harvested ice is “very compelling” to have a look at, Eliasson says. “It’s actually touching, very stunning. It comprises a number of small bubbles, and because the ice melts, the bubbles crack like popcorn—it’s like a bit live performance of bubbles.”

Time is a vital theme within the work, as the general public watches 15,000-year-old glacier ice soften and disappear inside per week. “The dangers and worries [of climate change] are outdoors of our lifespan. That’s why I believe it’s at all times nice to have a baby or a grandchild within the room when you might have a local weather dialogue. We have to be much less egoistic and see past our lifetime.”

When the work was first staged in Copenhagen, Barack Obama was in energy. However Eliasson says that though Obama recognised the significance of local weather change, leading to maybe a extra complacent civic sector, “it’s not like he did lots towards local weather change”. As an alternative, he says, the extra populist US President Trump appears to have evoked the alternative impact he envisioned, creating higher local weather consciousness within the US and constructing a stronger civic counter-force.

Eliasson factors to small island states as examples of governments which have taken radical steps to cope with the consequences of local weather change. Fiji, for instance, has purchased land in different international locations to maneuver entire communities within the close to future. He additionally welcomes the revolutionary concept that well-off states ought to pay for changes to the local weather of weak states. He cites a current dialogue on the Katowice summit across the precept that international locations which are perpetrators of local weather change ought to mechanically concern local weather change refugees with a passport. Eliasson says: “The UK, for instance, has been so busy with Brexit that it has accomplished nothing particularly to ahead the local weather debate. Their fear pool is simply filled with Brexit. So why doesn’t the UK give the 30-40m individuals who may doubtlessly be local weather refugees from jap Ethiopia a UK passport? Isn’t it simply truthful to say the international locations that created the issue want to assist the individuals who don’t know the place to go? As an alternative, we’re forcing them into refugee camps.”

Ice Watch will probably be on view between 11 and—climate allowing—21 December.


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