The Debt is an art performance that will take place on the slopes of the Ok volcano (1198m) in Iceland. The symbolic place where in 2014 the first Icelandic glacier succumbed to the rising temperatures. On top of the Ok I will personally put back 1 ton of ice. That’s the amount of ice I melt when I fly to Iceland, according to a Carbon Footprint calculator. The Debt emphasizes the absolute need for policy and legislative changes for polluting industries. And specifically addresses the deceptive practice where polluting companies try to divert attention from their own environmental impact by pointing out to us, the citizens, our own environmental impact and how we can do better. Without really working on their own impact, which is exponentially greater.
In early 2021 I was preparing an art project that would take place in Iceland. While I was booking my flight online, I was asked if I wanted to neutralize the CO2 emissions of the aircraft. Intrigued by this question, I was curious about the real impact I would have on the environment by taking this flight. After using an online Carbon Footprint calculator, I finally got my answer: 1 ton of ice, 1000 kg of ice. That would be the amount of ice I would (indirectly) melt if I went to Iceland by plane.
Did I feel bad knowing this? No. Did I consider never taking a plane again in my entire life? Again, no. Then why did I have this strange sensation that someone was trying to make me feel guilty about taking this flight? Triggered by this feeling, I decided to delve a little deeper into the concept of the Carbon. And what I found astounded me. The whole concept of the Carbon Footprint was invented in 2004, not by some ecological organization but by the oil company British Petroleum (BP). It was an insidious but highly successful attempt to divert attention from their own carbon footprint by tricking us, the individual, to focus on our own impact. The absurdity of this situation, an oil giant itelling do better while they’re simply continuing their polluting practices, made me decide to abandon the original project and focus on this debt of 1 ton of ice that I would supposedly melt.
To address this absurd practice, I finally decided to do an equally absurd performance. Apparently, I would melt 1 ton of ice? Well, I thought, I’ll just put back those 1000 kg of ice. From Monday September 5, 2022, for 5 days, I will collect a total of 1000 liters of melt water (coming from Icelandic glaciers), then refreeze it in 200 ice bars of 5 kg each and personally put all the ice back on the Ok where the Okjokull Glacier used to be
The performance will end when I put the last ice cube on top of the Ok and my debt is cleared.