Ice Watch: living through time

“Interestingly, when I did The Weather Project at Tate Modern back in 2003, climate change wasn’t on anyone’s agenda. At the time, the work was received as being about the museum as a stage, about sociality, embodiment, being singular plural. Only later did people start thinking about it in relation to the climate – and I think that’s just fine. The work is open to this shift in attention. It welcomes it. Even when I did Your Waste of Time in 2006, which anticipated Ice Watch in some respects, climate change wasn’t really on the global agenda. It was also not what drove me to bring chunks of hundreds-of-years-old Icelandic ice into an art gallery for visitors to touch them. The focus then was on direct, visceral experience – which has long been central to my art practice.

From this, I realized that encountering old ice may have extraordinary effects, and in 2014 I did Ice Watch in city hall square in Copenhagen with Minik Rosing, a geologist and great friend. When you touch an old block of melting Greenlandic inland ice, you physically feel the reality of time passing and climate change in a way different to reading the newspaper or through numbers and scientific data. This is where the arts speak a strong, direct language. In two minutes, Ice Watch can communicate more than can be said in 700 pages of a scientific report.”

– Olafur Eliasson interviewed by designboom

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Ice Watch: living through time