Dezeen Magazine

Artist Leandro Erlich creates sand-covered traffic jam on Miami beach

Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich has created sand-covered sculptures of 66 cars and trucks, which he has arranged to resemble a traffic jam on Miami Beach in a bid to raise awareness of the climate-change crisis.

Erlich created the temporary installation, titled the Order of Importance, on the oceanfront at Lincoln Road for this year's Miami art week.

Order of Importance by Leandro Erlich

It comprises two rows of vehicles split by a traffic divider. The vehicles appear to be made from compacted sand, although Erlich will not disclose exactly what he used to make the work.

Most of the vehicles are partially buried in the sand, which is intended to give the effect that they are submerged – a reference to rising sea levels caused by global warming.

Order of Importance by Leandro Erlich

"Climate change and its consequences are no longer a matter of perspective or opinion," said Erlich. "The climate crisis has become an objective problem that requires immediate solutions."

"As an artist, I am in a constant struggle to make people aware of this reality," he added. "In particular, the idea that we cannot shrink away from our responsibilities to protect the planet."

Order of Importance by Leandro Erlich

Miami is among a number of coastal cities threatened by rising sea levels caused by the climate crisis and is already prone to flooding.

Architects and developers working in the Florida city have responded to the risk by making buildings resilient to rising waters. For example, French architect Jean Nouvel has designed Miami Beach residences to be elevated 11 feet above sea level to address the risk.

"Apart from its surreal beauty and poetry, Order of Importance, like an image from a contemporary Pompeii, or a future relic, also alludes to our fragile position in the large universal canvas," said Ximena Caminos, the curator behind the project. "It interacts with the climate crisis facing the world, particularly the rising sea level."

The installation, which took three months to make, is Erlich's largest project ever. His other works include an optical illusion in a Parisian store and a house suspended above a construction site in Germany.

Order of Importance by Leandro Erlich

In 2013, he created Dalston House, which comprised a reconstructed house facade lying face-up and a mirror positioned over it at a 45-degree angle. When people walked over the surface of the house, the reflected mirror image created the illusion that they were walking up the walls.

"Erlich has an uncanny ability to encourage us to take pause and reflect upon how we view the world around us," said Caminos. "By defying our perceptions, his work makes us question reality."

Order of Importance by Leandro Erlich

Order of Importance was commissioned by the City of Miami Beach for this year's Miami art week, which runs from 2 to 8 December. The project will be on show up until 15 December, and the sand will be allowed to disintegrate during this time.

Miami Art Week forms part of a host of activities taking place in the Floridan city this week, including Art Basel and Design Miami. Other exhibition and installations highlights include an inflatable bubble gallery and a lush garden installation by designer Marc Ange.

The video is by Kabinett Inc and Honeylab. All the images are still frames taken from the video.