The Freeze, 2015
Rescue Blanket for Kebnekaise
The Freeze installation revolves around a geo-engineering performance on top of Kebnekaise, the highest mountain in Sweden. In the past few decades, the mountain’s southern peak has lost nearly twenty meters of elevation as its crowning glacier melts due to a warmer climate; now, the rocky northern peak threatens to take over as the highest point in Sweden. By the end of summer 2014, the southern peak measured 2097.5 meters—just 0.7 meters higher than the north peak. During July and August, up to a hundred people climb the southern peak every day—but what will happen if they aim for the northern peak instead? Reaching the northern peak is much more difficult and may result in many more serious climbing accidents.
"Rescue Blanket for Kebnekaise," a geo-engineering performance, 2015. Photo documentation. Photo: Studio Bigert & Bergström
To counteract this negative development, a five-hundred-square-meter golden climate-shade cloth was placed on the mountain’s southern peak on the evening of the 2015 summer solstice. Bigert & Bergström’s performance was inspired by the attempts to halt the melting of the Rhône glacier in the Swiss Alps, where every summer large areas are covered with reflective cloth. This method can preserve up to three meters of glacial ice each summer season.
Viewed against the majestic backdrop of the snow-covered mountain chain, the rescue blanket on Kebnekaise seems diminutive, a futile symbolic gesture. But at the yearly measurement of the peak in August 2015, it had grown to 2097.8 meters. Whether these thirty centimeters of extra glacial ice were added because of the rescue-blanket installation is of course impossible to answer.
The material collected during the geo-engineering performance became an installation called The Freeze. The rescue blanket covers a full-scale sculptural replica of the peak, which is split down the middle so that visitors can walk through it and discover the segmented interior of the glacier. Adjacent to this decapitated mountain peak is a four-channel video sculpture–cum–weather station. Other works in the project include a memorial sculpture in reflective stainless steel of the southern peak height at the measurement in August 2014; an “Inverted Space Molecule” with spherical 360-degree panorama pictures from the tip of Kebnekaise down to the mine in Kiruna; an appropriated “sunshine recorder” displaying the burned trace of the sun on the evening of the performance; and a series of photographic glass montages of the peak receiving its protective blanket.
Photographic glass montages UV-printed photo on three-layer glass and aluminium, 50 x 75 x 6 cm