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SEPTEMBER 4, 2009 6:41AM

Berlin's "ice men" take the heat for global warming

Rate: 9 Flag
Ice men

ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2009, the World Wildlife Fund sponsored a remarkably touching public demonstration on Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt square. Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo created a thousand diminutive men out of ice and then placed them on the steps of the Concert Hall, home to the renowned Berlin Konzerthausorchester. There she left them to melt under the hot late summer sun to draw attention to the melting of the polar ice caps and the Greenland ice sheet, which, the WWF warns, could lead to changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and the release of even more greenhouse gases into the earth's atmosphere.

Nele Azevedo
If you want to admire Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo's
"self-dismantling" installation, you have to hurry
(photo by Kelly Winck)

Avezedo has set up her "Melting Men" exhibit in cities all over the world, including Sao Paulo, Havana, Paris, Porto, and Florence. She originally intended for it to shine an ironic light on permanent urban artwork, which has traditionally been fashioned out of marble or bronze. "This work was conceived as a critical view of the official historical monuments," the artist said in an interview. "As the reading and interpretation of an art piece is open, I'm glad it can also speak of urgent matters that threaten our existence on this planet."

Ice men 

Within an hour, this "self-dismantling" installation (which Azevedo also calls a "minimum monument") had melted down to a giant wet spot on the pavement, which in turn quickly evaporated into a cloudless Central European sky.


Public opinion is still divided over whether global warming is even real and what - if anything - should be done about it. As the debate drags on, substantive changes in the way we choose to live and conduct our business are hard to make out. Perhaps that is because we think we still have plenty of time to decide what to do. The "ice men" may have thought so too, and yet their time ran out very quickly indeed. How much do we still have?

Berlin's beautiful Gendarmenmarkt square

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Excellent post Alan. I read the other day (and I can't remember where) that there is an island (i can't remember where, geez) that is disappearing, fast, as we speak. This is just a small island, with a small population, but in the last year, the beach, that is no longer their, is gone. They are literally loses the place generations of their ancestors have lived, and strived. When is the world going to get serious, look at China, about this dreadful situation, before it becomes more than just an island, but a coast, that will no longer be on the GPS's in this world? Rated~~
That is truly an awesome message sent.

We know it's happening and we see it in everyday life. I think ultimately the question is whether this is all inevitable regardless of what we do, or will profound changes provide a reversal.

It's hard to say and with the corporate machines humming, it's difficult to know if we'll ever truly find out.
what an amazing sort of performance art piece. I love the photos. powerful.
Very cool (oh man...I really did not intend that pun) and thanks for bringing this to my attention.
Brilliant! Well done on finding that Alan. I am starting a project to try and find answers that get away from the 'Who has the correct science debate and who has the junk science'. Seems to me burning fossil fuels is a filthy business and we would all be healthier if it was done using the best tech to scrub the exhausts from cars and powers stations etc. whether the world is warming up or not. If it is warming up, we win two ways, and if it isn't we win anyway.

Expensive but maybe if we all stopped fighting wars we could save a few shillings for something productive. I know; fat chance.
What a project, 1000 icemen, how did she do it! The first must have been melting when she was half way?