London Canal Museum, 12-13 New Wharf Road, London N1 9RT
November – December 2013
Zero Celsius was an opportunity to witness, explore and be part of an unexpected subterranean landscape in the heart of King’s Cross. Through investigation and elaboration of different elements embedded in blocks of ice, artist Irma Irsara developed an experimental work with ever-changing outcomes. The installation process was determined by the interaction between the artist, the unique host location and the melting shapes of ice, resulting in a unique participatory experience.
This site–specific intervention, designed to take place in two recently-restored, historic ice wells at the London Canal Museum, saw Irsara absorb, interact with and take advantage of the peculiar aspects and previous function of the location. The former ice warehouse, which houses the museum, was established mid 19th century by ice cream maker and entrepreneur Carlo Gatti, who used the two brick-lined wells beneath the building to store blocks of natural ice brought from Norway via the London canal system.
Irsara collected water from the canal on a daily basis in order to produce forms of ice, incorporating melanix mirror, organic material, shredded text and lights, which then melted and transformed. The ever-evolving composition of ice blocks, at times incorporating video and projected still images, created a tension between the forms themselves and the surroundings. Ambient conditions, the darkness and the soft roundness and texture of the structure of the wells also influenced the configuration of the ice landscape.
Laura Bottin Curator
At scheduled times, Irma hosted tours of the wells, suggesting ways to observe and experience the artwork and its relation to the architecture of the site. Though their reaction, the spectators influenced the constant re-invention of this non-permanent artwork.