Artist Olafur Eliasson has an exhibit about glaciers called Your Waste of Time at MoMA PS1 in New York City. But the exhibit isn’t just about glaciers — it’s also made of glaciers. Eliasson broke chunks off Icelandic glaciers and flew them to Queens, which I guess is OK if the point of the exhibit is to make a point about “time that is measured in thousands of years rather than mere decades,” as MoMA says, but is kind of ironic if he’s trying to make any kind of statement about preserving glaciers.
You don’t have to be a genius to be wondering, “Now how does a glacier stay glacier-like in an art museum?” And the answer to that question is “extreme and costly refrigeration.” Between that and the flight from Iceland, isn’t he being kind of mean to the glacier and the environment at the same time? It’s a reasonable question. But Eliasson has been into glaciers as part of his work for a long time, so, presumably, he cares about them. So perhaps what he is doing here is making you feel sorry for those little glacier pieces so that you then think about the big glacier they broke off of, melting away in Iceland? Only he knows. And, since he’s the sort of artist who has no qualms about putting a bunch of glaciers in an artificially cold room and saying, “Hey, this is art, deal with it,” we suspect he won’t tell.
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