Melting Men

Communicators have a hard time making climate change relevant. Melt in the polar regions are particularly difficult to comprehend for people who don't live in the Arctic or study ice caps and glaciers. Thats why witnessing 1000 people melt in the September sun is such a cool and effective way to draw attention to the issue.

From 2005 to 2009 the Melting Men exhibition by Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo made appearances in 8 countries (Brazil, Cuba, Portugal, France, Italy, Norway, Germany and Japan). Interestingly, it wasn't until 2008 that the climate change message truly began to take shape. Azevedo's ice figures were part of an intervention called MinimumMonument, intended to critique the importance of historical monuments in cities. The environmental adoption of her work as a statement for climate change came to it's peak when the World Wildlife Fund sponsored her 2009 presentation in Berlin, Germany. The official byline in Berlin was watch these men melt in the sun to draw attention to the various impacts of Arctic melt: sea level rise, changes in weather patterns, and release of more greenhouse gases as permafrost thaws.

Azevedo by no means has adopted the title of climate change activist. But she pointedly noted that "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" to the Daily Mail.

The initial celebration of the momentary certainly expressed her view that a monument need not be the permanent grandiose idea of tradition. But the September 2009 exhibition equally expressed the urgency with which we should be acting on climate change and it was timed just in time for the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change's (UNFCCC) 15th Conference of the Parties to raise public awareness. Maybe there are some other non-environmental activists work we can grab to promote this September's UN Climate Summit in NYC?