In 2009, Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo created 1000 men and women figurines made out of ice for the completion of her Public art installation, The Minimum Monument (Melting Men). Throughout its life in the outdoor space, the ice figurines slowly melted until their disappearance. Originally placed in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt Square, the piece was to bring awareness of Global Warming. Minimum Monument was then installed in Ireland as part of the Festival of Queens; there, the artist, recreated the original in order to visually remind people of the melting ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica. Since then, the installation has travelled to many cities around the world and it remains internationally known as ‘climate-change art’.
In the midst of the holiday season, with record cold temperatures in parts of the world and Winter Solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year, upon us, I’ve been spending time studying work made with a simple organic material: Ice. Truth be told, despite spending my childhood in Minnesota, I now live in the desert, and the only ice I see is in my drinking glass. After studying art works made with ice as a central material, I am struck by a number of repeated inclinations by a number of artists. Much of the works I present here demonstrate that the transitory and temporal qualities of ice lend it to meaningful works about the body, time, climate, a sense of place and elements of endurance. Though this list is in no way exhaustive, artists included are: Marina Abramovic, Jay Atherton and Cy Keener, Nele Azavedo, Kirsten Justesen, Greatest Hits (a collective), Julie Rrap and Tavares Strachan.