BURLINGTON – If you were in Burlington recently you may have seen the latest piece of protest art created by Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo. The tiny melting ice figures were meant to make a statement about the perils of climate change, but are they also offensive? Azevedo, who travels the country creating these beautiful displays of miniature, human-like statues that adorned the steps of Burlington’s city hall last week, received an anonymous letter asking for their prompt removal. The letter cited “lack of diversity in types of ice used,” namely the lack of black ice.
Black ice is quite common in Vermont, although some stereotype the ice as dangerous, and, while not as common, dry ice is also present in the state and was not used in the sculpture.
A group of Burlingtonians also took offense to the miniature white sculptures, releasing a statement to the press reading, “The ice figures do not reflect our current values, or reflect the heritage of Burlington and its people. We will question the integrity of all artwork on display, and continue to aggressively provide our recommendations to the community as to what should and should not be on display, and what qualifies as art.”
The city has promised to make a decision about the art sometime in the next two years, but Azevedo has already taken the art to Middlebury College, where it will be on display today.