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Climate action art installation unveiled in downtown Helsinki

Nine large blocks, containing 13 cubes of ice each, are intended as a reminder of the ongoing climate crisis and the threat posed by rising sea levels.

The art installation on Helsinki's Kansalaistori square was unveiled at 12pm on Friday afternoon. Image: Petri Niemi / Yle

The City of Lahti, Europe's Green Capital of 2021, has brought a climate action art installation entitled the Indisputable Case of Emergency (ICE) to the centre of Helsinki.

The nine large blocks containing 13 cubes of ice each are intended to serve as a reminder of the ongoing climate crisis, as the melting ice symbolises the rapid progress of climate change and subsequent rise in sea levels, which will pose a severe threat to coastal cities over the coming decades.

The installation, unveiled on the capital's Kansalaistori square at noon on Friday, also features infographics related to climate change and an ICE musical composed by Cecilia Damström, which premiered at the opening ceremony.

"Ever since childhood I have wanted to make the world a better place. I feel that I can influence it by composing as well. The work is inspired by the melting of ice, the music depicts winter and ice," Damström said of the musical arrangement.

The ice cubes were initially formed in the Ylläs region of Lapland last winter, after which they were placed into cold storage in Kivikko, Helsinki, the installation's architect Erkko Aarti told Yle.

"The theme, climate change, is a massive one. For a long time, we wondered how to put it into practice. Then we ended up with ice and wood because they are environmentally friendly and durable materials. The goal was an impressive piece of work that provokes discussion," Aarti explained.

The installation also includes a wooden pavilion, where visitors can learn more about Lahti's status as European Green Capital for 2021. The pavilion will be open until August 15, but the ice cubes are not expected to last that long.

"The ice cubes seem to be attracting attention, but this is a huge space where everything looks small. But the great thing is that you can see and feel the coolness of the ice. We do not know when the ice will melt, but at least for some time here we can follow the micro-climate change," Aarti said.

Lahti as European Green Capital 2021

The installation is one of a number of projects arranged by the City of Lahti to mark its year as the European Green Capital.

"Here, the intention is also to shake up the images that people living outside Lahti have of our city. This is one of our most visible campaigns in Helsinki," program director Saara Vauramo from Lahti's European Environment Capital 2021 project told Yle.

Lahti has set itself an ambitious goal of being a carbon-neutral city by 2025.

The total cost of the art installation including the wooden pavilions is about 200,000 euros.