The first of four art projects by the Dutch sculptor Ap Verheggen has been erected on an iceberg along the coast of Greenland. With the help of GPS, the journey of the two dog sled riders can be followed live on the internet (www.coolemotion.org
). Ultimately the iceberg will melt and the sculptures will disappear into the ocean. The sculptures are therefore a symbolic reminder that the local population has had to give up certain cultural practices as a direct result of climate change. As Verheggen puts it: Climate change equals culture change.
Usually it is the driver that determines when the dogsled journey begins, its route, and when its over. With this sculpture, we want to show that ultimately it is nature that determines the course of the journey. says Verheggen. It remains unclear when the iceberg will detach itself from surrounding sea ice, as well as the exact course it will take, which will be determined by weather and currents. In theory the iceberg could reach the shores of Canada and remain there during the winter, before moving toward the American east coast. says Verheggen.
The artist has experienced great difficulty in erecting his sculptures in previously selected locations, as these could not be reached. As a result of record high temperatures this past winter, the ice was too thin to transport the sculptures by sled. My sculptures are 16 feet high and 40 feet long, weighing over 440 pounds each so they cant be placed on just any piece of ice says Verheggen. In the end, a helicopter was used to place the sculptures. The Greenland village of Ummannaq - where Verheggen ultimately erected his artwork - is situated on an island in the middle of a fjord, and home to approximately 1000 inhabitants and no less than 2000 sled dogs. For the first time this winter, there was no ice surrounding the island at all, and: to a large extent, travel with dog sleds was impossible, demonstrating how closely culture and climate are linked describes Verheggen.
When the sculptures - made of pure iron eventually collapse into the ocean, there will be no damage to the ecosystem, as dissolved iron is a natural part of it. Nevertheless, Verheggen has devised a rescue plan enabling him to recover the sculptures, if nature allows it. In any case, the GPS and batteries attached to a buoy will definitely be recovered.
The next set of sculptures in this series will be placed in other locations within northern Canada, as well as on melting permafrost in Siberia. Verheggens aim is to highlight climate change in an innovative way. I felt that it was time to look at climate change in another way, using art as medium The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has pledged its supports to this project. Spokesperson Gert Polet, who helped erecting the sculptures, explains: Aps project is a unique way of drawing attention to global warming and its effects on man and nature. This helps creating support for taking action on climate change.