World's Largest Ice Art on Siberia's Lake Baikal

ice circles photo

Images from the anthropologist

Lake Baikal is the "pearl of Siberia", the world's deepest freshwater lake. Because of its age and isolated location in Siberia, it contains unusual collections of freshwater flora and fauna and 1,700 plant and animal species. It has had a controversial history with Russian oligarchs plotting to destroy it and activists' offices being ransacked.

However in the depths of winter, something magical happened on the frozen lake: Jim Denevan, an artist, created the world's largest ice circles, spanning over nine square miles. It's ephemeral: started in March, it had disappeared by May.

siberian ice photo

In March,2010, Jim Denevan and his crew of eight travelled there. They lived in a yurt in the middle of the ice for the duration of the project.

The work was 'drawn' on the frozen surface of the lake, using the black ice beneath the white snow as contrast. The spiral of circles, along a fibonacci curve, grow in size from an origin of 18" to several miles in diameter. The circles were made using brooms, with the crew working for 15 days, 24 hours a day.

The artist says that it is the largest piece of art in the world. He is interested in capturing "nature's fleeting moments." The frozen surface of the lake which changes constantly with the wind and weather provided a massive canvas for him. To really see it properly, you have to be in a plane at 40,000 feet.

The project was sponsored by American clothing store Anthropologie as part of their online exhibition space that pairs artists with corporate funds.

jim delevan photo

It's not the first time that Denevan has attempted this kind of land art. Last year he created huge circles in the Black Rock desert in Nevada. Taking 15 days to complete, the piece had a diameter of just over three miles and contained more than 1000 individual circles. It was based on a mathematical theorem called an Apollonian Gasket; the design is set around triples of circles at tangents to others.

More on Lake Baikal
Russian Environmentalists' Office is Ransacked
Lake Baikal's Future Imperilled by Putin
A Victory for Lake Baikal's Future
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