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A Haunting New Sculpture In Downtown Montreal Will Melt To Reveal A Polar Bear Skeleton

It's a warning about climate change.

The 'Polar Bear on Thin Ice' sculpture in downtown Montreal.

The 'Polar Bear on Thin Ice' sculpture in downtown Montreal.

All eyes are on Montreal for the United Nations conference on biodiversity, COP15. Behind all the pomp and hefty security, the thousands of delegates at the conference have an urgent mission: "to agree on a new set of goals to guide global action through 2030 to halt and reverse nature loss." And a new sculpture in downtown Montreal serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of failure.

The installation by Espace pour la vie consists of a giant block of ice carved into the shape of a polar bear around a life-size bronze skeleton. The ice will gradually melt away to, by the end of COP15 on December 19, reveal the metalwork.

The ice is the work of sculptors Nicolas Godon and Laurent Godon. Mark Coreth designed the bronze frame. The piece, titled Ours blanc sur glaces éphémères, Polar Bear on Thin Ice in English, is located in front of 50, rue Sainte-Catherine O.

"The sculpture symbolizes climate change and its impact on the destruction of polar bear habitat," Espace pour la vie said in a press release, calling the animal "an indicator species of changes in the Arctic marine ecosystem."

The organization pointed to the wide-reaching ramifications of the polar bear's habitat loss, including a turn to bird egg hunting as the increasing scarcity of ice floats makes hunting sea mammals unsustainable. That reliance on eggs, Espace pour la vie says, could in turn negatively affect bears' health.

"Polar Bear on Thin Ice is a metaphor for the importance of taking action to live in harmony with nature."

The piece has also made appearances in Copenhagen, London, Ottawa, Quebec City, Toronto and Vancouver.

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