Berlin’s “ice men” take the heat for global warming

Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo

ON SEPTEMBER 2, 2009, the World Wildlife Fund sponsored a remarkably touching public demonstration on Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt square. Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo carved 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.

Ice men

Avezedo has set up this installation in cities all over the world, including Sao Paolo, Havana, Paris, Porto, and Florence. Originally she intended her exhibit to shine an ironic light on permanent urban artwork, which has traditionally been fashioned out of marble or bronze. Only later did she begin shifting her focus to environmental issues. “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.” …

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