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Olafur Eliasson to Launch Major Public Artwork at UN Climate Summit in Paris

UPDATED 11/26: We are pleased to announce that Ice Watch will now open to the public on Thursday,  December 3 in the Place du Panthéon, Paris. 

With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, glacier ice installation Ice Watch aims to encourage public action against climate change at COP21

Acclaimed visual artist Olafur Eliasson, in collaboration with distinguished geologist Minik Rosing, today announced the upcoming launch of a major public artwork on display during the UN Climate Summit (COP21) in Paris. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and realized in partnership with creative sustainability charity Julie’s Bicycle, Ice Watch will showcase 80 tonnes of ice from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland with the aim of inspiring public action against climate change.

Harvested from free-floating blocks of ice, the work will be arranged in a clock formation on the Place de la République on Sunday, 29 November 2015, the day before world leaders and their climate teams gather in Le Bourget, Paris to discuss how to ensure a stable climate for future generations. In the days following, the ice will be allowed to melt in the square, offering the general public a glimpse at climate change on our planet.

“Today we have access to reliable data that sheds light on what will happen and what can be done,” said Olafur Eliasson. “Let’s appreciate this unique opportunity – we, the world, can and must act now. Let’s transform climate knowledge into climate action. As an artist I hope my works touch people, which in turn can make something that may have previously seemed quite abstract more a reality. Art has the ability to change our perceptions and perspectives on the world, and Ice Watch makes the climate challenges we are facing tangible. I hope it will inspire shared commitment to taking climate action.”

Eliasson frequently alters the public’s perception of the environment through his art projects, addressing some of the world’s problems and proposing practical solutions. In 2012, together with solar engineer Frederik Ottesen, he designed and launched Little Sun, a social enterprise that produces and distributes solar-powered LED lights. The lanterns are designed to provide a safe, healthy solution for the nearly one quarter of the world’s population that do not have access to electricity.

“From my visit to the Arctic last year, I have a very lively memory of the horrifying noise and sight of huge ice blocks cracking and breaking away from the pack,” said Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and President of COP21. “The Arctic is indeed the gatekeeper of climate disorder: for years, this region has been sending us signals that we cannot neglect anymore. The international community must hear them and turn them into acts.”

“Through our actions we are now close to terminating the period of stable climate that served as the condition for civilizations to arise and flourish,” said Minik Rosing, Professor of Geology, the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the University of Copenhagen. “Science and technology have made it possible for us to destabilize Earth’s climate, but now that we understand the mechanisms behind these changes, we have the power to prevent them from growing.”

“Ice Watch is a great example of how public art can draw attention to big challenges and spur people to action,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, Founder of Bloomberg LP, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and three-term Mayor of New York City. Michael Bloomberg also serves as the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change and is co-hosting the Climate Summit for Local Leaders with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo at Paris City Hall on 4 December.

Depending on weather conditions, Ice Watch is expected to be on view until 11 December, the last day of the conference. Remaining ice will then be brought to local schools and cultural institutions as part of an extended community educational program.

The project will be realized in collaboration with Julie’s Bicycle, a leading not-for-profit organisation advocating for sustainability in the cultural and creative industries. Ice Watch is featured on ArtCOP21 with over 300 other arts events, which are supporting the talks as well as a symposium for cultural policy makers facilitated by COAL, On the Move and Julie’s Bicycle.

Ice Watch is a core project of the initiative Artists4ParisClimate2015, which not only aims to mobilize public opinion around climate change, through interventions in public space by major international artists, but also act for climate: on 9 December, a charity auction will be conducted at Christie’s Paris. Each artwork will support a different UN selected NGO project to combat desertification and climate change.

“I am delighted to support this exciting and positive initiative, which will not only help those most vulnerable to climate change through the donation of funds raised, but also help to promote COP21 as a critical opportunity for nations to adopt a durable universal climate agreement,” said Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. “I hope that the artwork can inspire ambitious choices which lead to combating both climate change and desertification.”


Notes to editors:

Olafur Eliasson:
Well-known for his 2003 installation The weather project, at Tate Modern London, which was seen by over two million visitors, and for Contact, his recent exhibition at Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s work spans from photography and film to sculpture, installation, and architecture. Established in 1995, his Berlin studio today numbers about 90 craftsmen, architects, and art historians.

Minik Thorleif Rosing:
Professor of geology at the Natural History Museum of Denmark at the Copenhagen University, he has participated in the geological exploration of Greenland and is world famous for having backdated the origin of life on Earth by several hundred million years.

Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: public health, environment, education, government innovation and the arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million, and it has a history of supporting creative and innovative public art. In 2014 alone, Bloomberg Philanthropies supported artist Tobias Rehberger’s Dazzle Ship in London as part of 14-18 NOW, WW1 Centenary Art Commissions, and the Liverpool Biennial; We the People, Dahn Vo’s multi-site exhibition in New York City, organised by Public Art Fund; and Doug and Mike Starn’s Big Bambú installation in Jerusalem. This year it launched the Public Art Challenge, encouraging temporary public works of art in cities across the U.S. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat: Bloombergdotorg and Twitter: @BloombergDotOrg.

Julie’s Bicycle:
Julie’s Bicycle is a London based global charity bridging the gap between environmental sustainability and the creative industries. Founded in 2007, its vision is a progressive, efficient and sustainable creative community. It works with over 1,000 arts organisations across the UK and internationally to measure, manage and reduce environmental impacts. Over the past two years, the charity has helped the arts save 16,784 tonnes of C02 emissions, equivalent to over £3 million. For more information go to

Press contacts:
Tara Mullins (, t: +1 646 520 6468)
Bloomberg Philanthropies: Lee Cochran (, t: +1 212 205 0378)
Studio Olafur Eliasson: Martin Enoch (, t: +49 157 51556356)
Artist4ParisClimate2015: Emmanuelle Amiot (, t: +33 1 39 95 22 86)