nele azevedo

In 2009, Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo carved these incredible tiny ice sculptures of men on the steps of Gendarmenmarkt Square in Berlin. Aside from being beautiful, Azevedo created the thousand miniature people to shed light on the effects of global warming and the World Wildlife Fund’s warning that melting ice could cause water levels to rise.


A thousand miniature people have slowly melted away in a Berlin square in an effort to draw attention to melting ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica. Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo carved the figures out of ice and placed them on steps in the central Gendarmenmarkt square where they began to melt within about half an hour. (Source)

Melting Men - Nele Azevedo

“The installation, Melting Men, was meant to spotlight the World Wildlife Fund’s warning that melting ice could possibly cause levels to rise more than 3.3 ft by 2100.

The group warns that the warming of the Arctic will change weather in different parts of the world and increase the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Since 2005, Azevedo has been setting up her Melting Men in various countries around the world. Although originally intended as a critic of the role of monuments in cities, environmentalists around the world are adopting her work as climate change art.”

This work is a very interesting take on the global warming crisis. By depicting small people as ice sculptures, melting in the sun acts as a kind of metaphor for the possibility of humanities demise. The message that I receive from this is, as the planet continues to grow warmer brings us closer to a world without man. Eventually the earth will be too hot to be hospitable for human life, or any life. The ice sculptures themselves have an eerie look to them that gives off a sad and depressing reality. 


Nele Azevedo, Melting men, 2009

“The project is a critical reading of the monument in the contemporary cities. In a few-minute action, the official canons of the monument are inverted: in the place of the hero, the anonym; in the place of the solidity of the stone, the ephemeral process of the ice; in the place of the monument scale, the minimum scale of the perishable bodies.”

But environmentalists around the world have been adopting Azevedo’s Melting Men as climate change art. Azevedo is going with it:

In Sao Paulo there were 300 sculptures in April 2005. Later that year, 400 ice figures melted on the L’Opera Stairs and Mairie du Novienne, in Paris. In June 2006 more than 500 melting man were placed in Braunschweig Plaza and in September there were 1000 sculptures melting in the city of Porto.

This year the intervention took place in Firenze, Italy were 1200 ice sculptures were placed in the stairs of Instituti delle Inocenti at the Piazza della Santíssima Annunziata, built by the renaissance architect Brunelleschi. As it always happens, the people who were there were invited to help build the monument, placing the ice figures.

When there are more sculptures, the bigger the impact, and it reaches a monumental scale.