Dawn of the Anthropocene

On the morning of September 21, 2014, we will install a 3,000-pound ice sculpture of the words The Future at the intersection of Broadway and 23rd Streets at Flat Iron North Plaza in New York City. This public art work coincides with the U.N. Climate Summit and the Peoples Climate March to underscore the necessity for immediate action to confront global warming.

We plan for The Future, measuring 21 feet wide and 5 feet tall, to melt away. During this process we photograph and film the installation’s disappearance posting it on the internet in real-time. This event overlaps many art forms, it’s part sculpture, part installation, part performance, and an internet media event. But most of all, we make art for social change installing temporary public sculptures to mark important historical events. The Climate Summit is that and more.

We’re calling the piece, Dawn of the Anthropocene to describe the effect of humanity on the Earth’s systems. The term comes from Nobel prize scientist Paul Crutzen. In his and other scientists’ view, humanity has entered an age when the power and impact of humans is as great, if not greater, than nature’s.

When you begin to witness the rapid changes occuring on the planet, rising températures, increasing droughts, the extinction of vast numbers of species, you think about loss and disappearance. Ice is the perfect material for bringing awareness of what that kind of change means.

This project follows our earlier ice projects which we call “temporary monuments.” In 2008, we installed ice sculptures of the words Democracy at the political conventions, Economy on the 79th anniversary of the Great Depression, and Middle Class in 2012 in Charlotte and Tampa. (http://www.worldpolicy.org/blog/2013/10/04/democratic-meltdown) These ice sculptures materially underscore the impact of political and social ideas that often escape the public’s attention.

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