Art on a Cool Mission

Dutch artist Ap Verheggen is installing his latest work far beyond the safe walls of a museum: on a doomed iceberg in a region of Greenland that is experiencing the effects of climate change.

The project, entitled “Cool (E)Motion,” is designed to draw attention to the plight of the native Inuit people, and other cultures that are in similarly precarious positions. Gert Polet of the World Wildlife Fund, which helped fund the project, states: “We see the amount of sea ice is diminishing very fast. A lot of ecosystems and a lot of animals depend on the sea ice for their survival, also people who live in the Arctic.”

The Inuit people of nearby village Uummannaq typically travel by dog sleds. But the sea didn’t freeze enough this year to create the thick layer of ice that sledders need to get around. This deeply affects the culture of the villagers, who have traveled by sled for generations. Cool (E)motion’s tagline speaks to this effect: Climate Change = Culture Change.

Verheggen explains his creation: “When Inuits travel to an unknown destination, they always go in twos,” he said. “Where this iceberg is going to and when the trip ends- who knows, and therefore it’s two.” The artist had to convey his sculpture to the iceberg via helicopter, since the melting sea ice has made boat transportation too difficult on many days. Just barely created and already the sculpture’s days are numbered. Inevitably the work of art will fall victim to climate change, the only question is when. The group sees beyond that end though: “Yes, in time the sculptures will disappear, but hopefully their memory will trail the arctic seas.”

A video documenting the work can be seen here:

You can also monitor the sculpture online through Cool (E)Motion’s website and blog.

*****
Darcy Zacharias, CC ’10

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