Trickle-down theory: ‘Iceberg’’s gentle message about global warming

Iceberg – Photo by Alexandre Ayer
A young girl walks through “Iceberg” at night, when it is illuminated by lights. Photo by Alexandre Ayre

BY GABE HERMAN | A new art installation in the Garment District called “Iceberg” brings some playful character to the middle of Broadway, while also provoking thought for those interested in the piece’s message about climate change.

The installation, which runs from Jan. 9 to Feb. 24 is located between W. 37 and W. 38 Sts. It consists of 14 big metal arches shaped like an iceberg, which light up and make gentle noises of trickling water as one walks through them.

The idea is to reference mankind’s effect on climate change and melting icebergs. One end of the artwork has bigger arches, which become smaller and narrower at the other side, evoking a gradual melting.

“Trickling water indicates that the human presence is transforming Arctic nature into a fragile landscape,” reads a description from the Garment District Alliance, which is co-presenting the piece with the Department of Transportation’s Art Program.

The piece’s serious message, however, does not make it a drab exhibit. On the contrary, it can also be fun for kids or anyone just looking to enjoy the interactive experience. It’s also a fun challenge to try to hear the gentle trickling noises over the constant Midtown traffic.

Barbara A. Blair is president of the nonprofit Garment District Alliance, formerly known as the Fashion Center Business Improvement District.

“This is an astonishing installation that transforms Broadway into a gleaming, interactive experience for pedestrians, while reinforcing an important environmental message,” Blair said when the installation was announced.

A man — perhaps wondering what the artwork’s “angle” is — checks out “Iceberg” by day.

And “Iceberg” is especially beautiful and Instagram-friendly at night, when the arches and ground inside and around it are lit in rich blues and purples.

The installation was created by ATOMIC3, a multimedia design studio, and Appareil Architecture, in collaboration with Jean-Sébastien Côté and Philippe Jean. It was first shown as part of an exhibition in Montreal in 2012.

“We are very curious to see how people will react and play with it in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world,” Félix Dagenais and Louis-Xavier Gagnon-Lebrun, co-artistic directors at ATOMIC3, said in a statement.

“We’re proud that New Yorkers now have the opportunity to interact with the Montreal-made installation ‘Iceberg,’” said Jean Saintonge, the acting head of post at the Quebec Government Office in New York. “Climate change is a global problem that requires local action. Quebec is taking steps to reduce its carbon emissions, and is also working with partners in New York to raise climate awareness, and provide innovative solutions to address this urgent global issue.”