Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967, Denmark/Iceland) is one of the most acclaimed international artists today. Since the early 1990s, his works have been presented in countless exhibitions all over the world. Eliasson uses a variety of media, including sculpture, photography, film and installation, but he also creates architectural projects and site-specific pieces for public spaces. Light, wind and water in every conceivable form feature prominently. And yet, nature is present in the works as material rather than as subject matter.
In the encounter with Eliasson’s installation, it is not always obvious where the art object ends and the viewer begins. The focus shifts from the art object itself to the actual experience of seeing. Eliasson’s works also give rise to situations that challenge, renegotiate and reinterpret our perception of reality.
Curator: Matilda Olof-Ors
It is a matter of becoming aware of what we see, but also of being aware of ourselves in the act of seeing. Or, as the artist puts it, “seeing yourself seeing”, of acknowledging our presence and our participation.
Perception is central to Olafur Eliassons’s oeuvre. He has described his works as devices for experiencing reality, thus creating new perceptions of the world. It is a matter of becoming aware of what we see, but also of being aware of ourselves in the act of seeing. Or, as the artist puts it, “seeing yourself seeing”, of acknowledging our presence and our participation.
In his early work Beauty (1993), a perforated hose is attached to the ceiling in a darkened room. A visible spotlight shines on the mist produced by thousands of droplets falling to the floor. But the work appears only when we find ourselves at a certain angle where we see the light refracted by the water. The experience of the visual effects that arise depends on your position in the room. Although the work consists of actual physical components, Beauty is transient and immaterial – an optical phenomenon. Illusions are shattered. The work, like our notions of the reality it recreates, are revealed as constructs.
Studio Olafur Eliasson
Some 90 people are employed in the Berlin-based Studio Olafur Eliasson, including architects, art historians, technicians, engineers, designers and cooks, who create projects together. The wide professional range reflects the Studio’s activities and Eliasson’s work method of realising ideas through experimental, dialogue-based exploration.
A richly illustrated catalogue will be published in conjunction with the exhibition. However, since the catalogue is planned to include photographs from the current exhibition, it will not be available until December. Read excerpts from the catalogue here:
Olafur Eliasson: Verklighetsmaskiner/Reality machines is organised by Moderna Museet in association with ArkDes (the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design).