Ice Watch, a joint work with the geologist Minik Rosing, dates back to 2014. Twelve large blocks of ice that had broken free of the Greenland ice sheet were harvested from a fjord outside Nuuk and arranged in famous public spaces – City Hall Square in Copenhagen from 26th to 29th October 2014, to mark the publication of the UN’s Fifth IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report; in Place du Panthéon in Paris, from 3rd to 13th December 2015, to mark the COP21 UN Climate Conference; from 11th December 2018 to 2nd January 2019 outside Bloomberg’s European headquarters and in front of Tate Modern. This work also aims to raise awareness of climate change, through a direct and tangible experience of the reality of melting Arctic ice.
Olafur Eliasson sees ice, water and nature as parts of a single system tightly bound up with man and his impact on the environment – it is only by respecting our habitat that we can preserve our future and be happy, along with the other living species. “I used the natural phenomena, extracting them from nature as if it were a toolkit. But I don’t necessarily think nature can be interesting without the people who live in it. I’m not a radical ecologist who thinks nature on its own is important in itself, I think it’s there for people. But we certainly need to teach ourselves and our children how to protect it. In my work, I’m trying to strike a balance. I do what I do for people, and use nature as a medium, because it is able to speak to an extremely large number of individuals,” he said.
A decidedly committed artist, his messages range across ecology and philanthropy, politics and activism, by way of food culture and food provenance, involving wealthy sponsors such as the former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, and collaborations with the United Nations.
There will be an opportunity to explore this artist further at a solo show held by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi which opens in Florence on 22nd September 2022. Curated by Arturo Galansino, the exhibition will be the largest ever held by Eliasson in Italy, treating visitors to a broad overview of works spanning his 30-year career, as well as new works devised especially for Palazzo Strozzi.