It was important that the ice harvest process be as low-impact and sustainable as possible. Guided by passive ice house enthusiast Will Steger and company Wee Kut Ice, the ice used in Phase Change was harvested from Lake Calhoun (Dakota name ‘Bde Mka Ska’) in preparations for the annual Polar Plunge. The ice that was taken from the lake was essentially waste--Phase Change repurposed this “waste” to create art. The ice itself was stored passively rather than refrigerated, as the latter would consume large amounts of energy for how much ice was harvested, undermining efforts at sustainability. Though it was challenging, about 60% of the ice first harvested was available to us after the 3-month long storage. Steger was an invaluable resource during the harvest process. Having hosted the annual Steger Wilderness Centre’s Homestead Ice Harvest (also known as the “Ice Ball”), he has become a near expert on the topic. Held in Ely, MN, volunteers retrieve and passively store ice from Lake Homestead using saws and tongs acquired from original ice harvesters of the area. Steger moved into the wilderness to live a lower-impact lifestyle, and his need for passive refrigeration sparked his interest in ice houses.
The ice house consequently served as an exhibition space near the main installation. Within the reconstructed house viewers were able to watch artist Ruth Le Gear’s video piece, “Polar Forces: universe of an iceberg”. The piece was selected as a video meditation on the idea of phase change, showing glacial ice in its different forms. It was produced during a residency Le Gear undertook while sailing the Arctic waters of Svalbard on a tall ship 2012, in an exploration of water shortage remedies and the potentiality of ice.
Watch Le Gear's piece "Polar Forces: universe of an iceberg" on the player above, or directly on Vimeo here.