Lake Tahoe debut of 50-foot floating sculpture postponed |

Lake Tahoe debut of 50-foot floating sculpture postponed

Claire Cudahy
Laka'Lelup was supposed to debut in Lake Tahoe this summer, but instead the floating sculpture is headed to Germany for the UN Climate Conference.
Courtesy / Tahoe Public Art |

A floating sculpture digitally depicting data on the climate-related threats to the Tahoe Basin won’t be found on the lake this summer as planned. Instead, it’s headed off to Germany.

The 50-by-25-foot temporary art installation was dreamed up by Tahoe Public Art’s Executive Director Mia Hanak, who spent the 10 years prior to joining TPA in 2016 creating environmental art installations around the world for the United Nations. The piece is called Laka’Lelup, a Washoe term meaning “coming together for a common purpose.”

Data from UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, along with indigenous knowledge from the Washoe Tribe, was interpreted by a group of artists and turned into an hour-long multimedia show for display on the hexagonal LED panels that make up the sculpture.

By day, two-way polycarbonate mirrors reflect the natural environment around the sculpture, while chirps and calls from Lake Tahoe’s endangered species, Washoe music and spoken word, and musical scores play from the speakers. At night, the one-hour multimedia show loops twice.

The solar-powered floating installation was intended to be tethered on both the North and South shores of Lake Tahoe this August for a total of 20 days, but those plans have changed.

“The opportunity then presented itself for us to bring Laka’Lelup to the UN Climate Conference – COP23 (Conference of Parties) taking place in Bonn, Germany, Nov. 6 – 17, as part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Art4Climate initiative,” said Hanak. “This provides the opportunity for us to showcase scientific data about climate impacts on the Lake Tahoe to a global audience, through the universal language of art.”

Laka’Lelup is now scheduled for a lake-wide tour from July – August 2018.

“We managed to get a lake-wide permit for the installation next year, so on the North, South, East and West shores,” said Hanak. “And the importance of Laka’Lelup is bringing people together from all over, so this made more sense.”

The exact dates and locations for the tour will be announced after the sculpture’s debut in Germany this November.

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