Eliasson’s new public artwork, ‘Our Glacial Perspectives,’ is on the Giogo Alto glacier in South Tyrol

‘Our Glacial Perspectives’ is the latest permanent, public artwork of Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson located at 3,212 meters above sea level on the Giogo Alto glacier in South Tyrol. The artwork begins with a path leading along the mountain’s glacial-carved ridge for 410 meters. This path is divided by nine gates that are spaced at intervals corresponding in scale to the duration of Earth’s ice ages, marking thereby a deep-time timeline of our planet, ice, and the environment. At the end of the path is a pavilion made from multiple steel and glass rings that contain a circular deck. Standing on the deck, the viewer can use the pavilion as an astronomical instrument by aligning her gaze with the surrounding rings, which track the apparent path of the sun in the sky on any given day. The rings divide the year into equal time intervals: the top ring tracks the path of the sun on the summer solstice; the middle ring tracks the equinox; and the bottom, the winter solstice. Moreover, each ring is made of rectangular glass panes that cover 15 arc minutes of the sun’s movement across the sky. Thus, the viewer can determine the time of day based on the position of the sun. The glass panes of the sun-path are tinted various shades of blue in reference to the cyanometer, a scale developed in the XIX century for measuring the blueness of the sky. The colored glass filters and reflects light and solar radiation, behaving as a mini-atmosphere. On the outside of the pavilion, two parallel steel rings frame the horizon line, and the half-rings that support the structure indicate the north–south and east–west axes.

The artwork begins with a path leading along the mountain’s glacial-carved ridge for 410 meters

By marking the horizon, the cardinal directions, and the movement of the sun, the installation directs the visitor’s attention to a larger planetary perspective on the changes in climate that are directly affecting the Giogo Alto glacier. Eliasson said: “The artwork acts as a magnifier for the very particular experience of time and space that this location affords – vast and boundless on the one hand, local and specific on the other. It is an optical device that invites us to engage, from our embodied position, with planetary and glacial perspectives.”

Ilona Catani Scarlett

Photo: Oskar Da Riz

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