Arts

A Giant Foam Iceberg Will Float in Boston’s Fort Point Channel

The ode to a real life 'berg will be christened with a "funeral."

Rendering via the Fort Point Arts Community

Boston in fall is chilly, sure. Frigid, even. But not iceberg chilly. At least, not until now.

In a few weeks, a giant foam likeness of an Antarctic iceberg will be dispatched to the Boston’s Fort Point Channel, courtesy of the Fort Point Arts Community.

The piece, called Iceberg, by artist Gianna Stewart is the latest floating artwork to grace the channel, which is visible from the high-traffic Congress Street and Summer Street bridges linking Fort Point and the Financial District. It will make its debut on Sunday, October 8, a week before the launch of the Fort Point Arts Community Open Studios, which runs October 13-15.

This isn’t just any old ‘berg. Stewart says she was inspired by the real-life story of a trillion-ton iceberg the size of Delaware that snapped off the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica in July. Spanning 2,550 square miles, it’s one of the biggest ever recorded—so massive it could, according to Climate Central “cover all 50 states in 4.6 inches of ice.” The foam Iceberg, meanwhile, stands 12 feet long, 10 feet tall, and ten feet wide.

The real-life iceberg detachment was a major ecological phenomenon. “It’s just incomprehensible,” she says. “You can’t fathom that.” And the thing is, says Stewart, unless you stumbled across coverage of it in the media, your average city-dweller might never know it happened. That is, unless a piece of it drifted into downtown Boston. “I had this backstory in my head of it making its way to Boston to meet its end,” she says. “In the craziness happening in the day to day right now, this is just a reminder of larger things happening outside our own little worlds.”

In case you want to get technical about it, Stewart says the piece isn’t a miniature version of a giant iceberg. Instead, we’re supposed to imagine it as a to-scale “bergy bit,” the name scientists use for medium-size chunks of ice adrift in the ocean.

Iceberg debuts a year after another eye-catching piece called SOS (Safety Orange Swimmers) that featured a flock of two-dozen orange mannequins floating in inner tubes—an image meant to evoke the refugee crisis overseas. Earlier iterations include floating multicolored sheep, a pyramid, and palm trees.

To set the tone for Iceberg‘s limited time in Boston, Stewart plans to christen the piece with a short performance on October 14. She’s calling it a “funeral” ceremony for the castaway ice chunk, during which she will circle the iceberg in a boat. “I’ll be dressed for a funeral and there will be funerary music,” she says. To advertise it, Stewart plans to place an “obituary” in a local newspaper noting that the iceberg “lived a long life,” and that, “beyond her cold façade she was a generous spirit, providing abundant terrain for Antarctic life, a wealth of water storage, and sheer beauty.”

“Her presence was impressively massive but lighthearted,” it will say, “floating all the way to Fort Point Channel. There she slowly dwindled, out of place, surrounded by no friends or family, only the unwavering bustle of downtown Boston and occasional flash of a tourist’s snap shot.”

In lieu of flowers, the obit will invite readers to make a donation to Environmental League of Massachusetts, Environment Massachusetts, or FPAC.

Artist Gianna Stewart crafted her giant foam sculpture of an iceberg in a studio in Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of the artist.

 

Photo courtesy of the artist.

 

Stewart shaped the iceberg’s contours in giant blocks of foam using a hot wire tool. Photo courtesy of Peter Hilton.


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com