by Nell Achtmeyer T’16
As the COP21 has started, many art installations have appeared around Paris as part of ArtCOP21. Using the break in the negotiations over the weekend, we set out to see some of the more prominent ones that we had heard about.
Lake Parc Montsouris is south of the city center and is the location that artist Pedro Marzorati chose to install a piece called Where the Tide Ebbs and Flows. It is an installation that represents the countries and urban centers that are threatened by sea level rise around the world. From shore, you see an arc of metallic blue statues of the identical human face and torso submerged at different levels in a semi- circle around the lake.
La Baleine Bleue (photo above) is a built to scale sculpture of a Blue Whale installed at Port du Gros Caillou. It is surrounded by other pictures of threatened species and was installed to reinforce the delicate balance of human activities on earth and the loss of biodiversity.
The New Yorker picked up the story of Ice Watch’s installation of 12 pieces of ice that had melted off of the Greenland ice sheet displayed at Place du Panthéon. It was installed in the shape of a clock to symbolize the limited time left to address raising global temperatures. In addition, it was designed to melt throughout the two weeks of negotiations to remind the world and countries attending the COP21 that real impacts of climate change are still taking place and the melting of glaciers is happening daily.
The Jardin des Plantes, near the center of the city, hosted an installation of a majestic tree placed behind a curtain of grass. Trees obviously play a significant role in climate change mitigation and so this artistic installation celebrates trees during the COP21, but is also part of an ongoing international art project called Radical Action Reaction (RAR) by artists Ackroyd & Harvey.
Finally, there are many educational displays that have been installed throughout the city, including one focused on cities for climate outside of the Hotel de Ville, Paris’ city hall. This display focuses on changes to the construction of homes, installations on roof gardens, and other ways to mitigate for climate change within existing urban environments. On Saturday, December 5th, Pont d’Iéna, the bridge across from the base of the Eiffel Tower was closed to cars to direct foot traffic through a display on how we can redesign the world.
Getting out to see these installations around the city was grounding and a great reminder that while the talks and negotiations are taking the spotlight now, it’s going to the understanding and advocacy of the public after Paris that keeps this work moving forward probably far more than the agreement that’s signed.