The Vitruvian Man is typically used as a symbol of the human relationship to geometry, to proportion, and to civilization. So Greenpeace decided to enlist artist John Quigley to install this massive symbol in the artic — about 500 miles from the North Pole. Depicted as fading away into the advancing tide, the Melting Vitruvian Man is meant to draw attention to dwindling sea ice – this year Arctic ice retreated to the third smallest area on record.

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Constructed from flattened panels of copper, the artwork was the size of four Olympic swimming pools. Quigley and a crew of volunteers laid it out while using the icebreaker ship ‘Artic Sunrise’ as their home base. The copper involved is usually used to construct solar panels: the volunteers collected it after installation for re-use. So while the massive artwork was in and of itself a ‘leave no trace’ event, the global changes it points toward definitely are not.

+ John Quigley