Ice Children

Greenpeace commissioned a work from me in 2009, where I came up with the idea of placing ice sculptures of 100 children at the Temple of Earth in Beijing, symbolizing the disappearing future of the more than 1 billion people in Asia who are threatened with water shortages by the changing climate. The temple of Earth used to be where Chinese emperors prayed for the well being of Earth and good harvests.

To do this I first had to find ice. I discovered that most of Beijing’s ice is actually from manmade lakes outside the city. In the winter, they fill them up, freeze them, and cut huge ice blocks out of them. They then take these ice blocks and keep them in massive freezer warehouses all around the city. I couldn't freeze my own because air bubbles would leave white spots. I needed something clear. So I used these blocks to sculpt the ice children. When they were done, getting them on site was another form of cultural exchange. I needed people to move 100 ice sculptures, so I thought logically: hire furniture movers. I trained around 80 of them for days, because moving a block of ice is not the same as moving a couch. They thought I was, again, crazy, paying them full days' wages just to train to move ice in hot weather. But when it came together and they saw the final pieces standing there, they got it.

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