ICE II by Olivier Mosset: A Site-Specific Ice Sculpture at TMA
Olivier Mosset (right) directed a crew from Kittle Construction that installed ICE II this morning in the Plaza.
ICE II, a site-specific ice sculpture by Olivier Mosset, opens today in TMA’s Plaza. It is Mosset’s second ice sculpture in Tucson. Looking at the first sculpture can provide some useful context for museum visitors who will visit ICE II this week. The following, written by Chief Curator Dr. Julie Sasse, is an excerpt from pages 31-32 of the OLIVIER MOSSET exhibition catalogue available in TMA’s Museum Store.
In October 2020, Mosset crafted an ice sculpture, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and during one of the most brutal droughts and heatwaves in Tucson history. Commissioned by Pima Community College (PCC) as part of their Sculpture-on-Campus project, Mosset was one of eight participating artists and the most acclaimed. Simply titled ICE, the sculpture was a twenty-inch-thick by an eighty-inch-high wall of ice, created by technicians who carefully cut the large blocks of ice and stacked them in precision form under Mosset’s watchful eye. ICE was filmed live via an online feed from the earliest stages of construction until it ultimately melted and evaporated into thin air, transitioning from solid form to invisibility within two days.
While it was easy to make analogies to water scarcity in the desert and global warming, Mosset remains committed to his original rationale for its being—he is interested in how light plays on the surfaces of the ice and the transitory nature of the material. Due to the campus shutting down because of the pandemic, other than a few technicians, campus administrators, teachers, and the artist himself, the sculpture was seen only remotely, which further accentuated the “there/not there” nature of the fast-melting sculpture. As artist and PCC sculpture professor and Sculpture-on-Campus coordinator Mike Stack explains, “Olivier Mosset’s ephemeral, contextually viewer driven, ice construction will stream to art and student audiences here and beyond our community’s boundaries throughout its brief existence—reminding us that visual art is irreplaceable and transformative expression resides equally in artist and viewer alike.” Immateriality thus becomes yet another inherent element in the work—in both the object and the viewer.
Olivier Mosset’s ICE was hosted by Pima Community College in October 2020. These images were taken from stop-motion video that documented the sculpture’s transformation over time.