On Sunday, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing will unveil Ice Watch, an installation that will bring 100 tonnes (equivalent to 112 tons) of ice to Copenhagen’s City Hall Square. Taken from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland, and displayed like a clock, the installation’s twelve large blocks represent the amount of ice that melts every hundredth of a second due to climate change—a number that will only increase over time.
Ice Watch is being staged in honor of the Fifth Assessment Report on the Climate, put together by a group of scientists known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and supported by the United Nations. The five-day conference, which begins on October 27, will highlight the ways that the climate will continue to change, unless we use science to curb it. Copenhagen was chosen to host the conference because, according to the European Green Capital, it is currently the most environmentally friendly city in Europe. In 2025, the Danish city plans to be carbon neutral.
Known for his perceptual installations that encourage physical experiences, Eliasson wants viewers to interact with the ice. “I hope that people will touch the inland ice on City Hall Square and be touched by it,” said Eliasson in a press release.
Eliasson—who previously worked with glacial ice in 2013 for Your waste of time, an installation created for MoMA PS1’s “EXPO 1″—also believes that Ice Watch has a political dimension. “Perception and physical experience are cornerstones in art, and they may also function as tools for creating social change,” said Eliasson. “We are all part of the ‘global we’; we must all work together to ensure a stable climate for future generations.”
For Eliasson and Rosing, art has the ability to change the world, and they’ll use Ice Watch to move people to action. As the climate heats up, Eliasson’s passion for raising awareness about the environment through art shows no sign of cooling down.