Artists craft iceberg to call for climate action


    Residents of New Zealand’s capital city were caught off-guard earlier this week when an iceberg was spotted floating in Wellington Harbour. As speculation began to mount regarding its authenticity, a group of anonymous artists claimed responsibility via email, saying:

    We are not affiliated with any formal group. We’re just people who care, people who have children. This is an appeal to every New Zealander who sees this artwork to stand up and take action. It’s time to really do something about climate change, before it’s too late. We didn’t just talk, we did something. What are you going to do?

    It seems as though the stunt has been met with favorable reaction from the city, which plans to let the iceberg remain until the end of the week. The public reaction, however, is somewhat inconclusive. The only published opinion I’ve seen is by a blogger for New Zealand’s Dominion Post, who—despite claiming to be a fan of public art (a la Banksy) and a supporter of climate science—said he liked the stunt, but was a bit turned off by the artists’ email:

    It was all so holier-than-thou… There was no concept of nuance, no sense that some people might be more worried about paying the rent right now than keeping the Arctic shelf together. There was no feeling that the best solutions for this complicated problem were probably larger, more structural, than an individual light switch. And there was definitely no thought that the message might be undermining the artwork, which was message enough on its own.

    Perhaps he has a point. Most public art is so direct as to not require an explanation. If it’s done right, the work should inspire or elicit the desired reaction. There’s a reason these artists chose a visual form. They clearly believed it to be the most powerful medium for their message. It probably would have been best to stick with it. Nevertheless, they deserve points for style.

    Recent Stories

    • Analysis

    WNV is hiring an Interviews Writer

    May 26, 2023

    Waging Nonviolence is hiring a writer to interview leading movement figures and analysts and produce one Q&A-style article per week.  The writer will work with our small editorial team to identify the interview subject each week. For the most part, we’ll be looking to hear from activists, organizers and scholars who can shed light on…

    • Analysis

    How protests that double as trainings are growing this fossil fuel divestment campaign

    May 25, 2023

    By melding theory and practice, Philadelphia’s Vanguard S.O.S. are building skills and collective power.

    • Analysis

    How a small activist sailing ship successfully challenged the nuclear arms race

    May 19, 2023

    The 1958 voyage of the Golden Rule offers important strategic lessons on how to confront an overwhelming evil and win.