Recalibrating the Senses in Oudenburg
August 11 – October 28, 2017
Olafur Eliasson’s thought-provoking installations, photographs, sculptures, and architectural projects explore the relationship between individuals and their surroundings, hosting a range of self-reflective activities.
At the centre of the exhibition is an arrangement of new compass works. Suspended from the ceiling, each compass is composed of an element from the artist’s studio in Berlin (a piece of driftwood, a fragment of meteorite, a concave mirror) and a magnet that directs the compass towards the north. These works provide an inventory of forms and materials that have been employed in Eliasson’s body of work, linking Eliasson’s interest in navigational instruments with the studio processes through which an idea finds its way from initial felt hunch via research and experimental set-ups to final realised work.
A series of watercolours and glass works explore the effects of transparency and layered combinations of colour. In the watercolours, thin washes of translucent colour overlap to produce additional hues. In the glass works, superimposed panes of coloured glass with circular cutouts translate the transparency and layering of the watercolours into shallow three-dimensional space. A number of glass works harbour a trace of Greenland in the form of specially handcrafted sheets of glass that incorporate glacial rock our into their raw material.
Outside the foundation, a landscape work traces lines directly onto the lawn, suggesting the plan for a future park or building or structure. Eliasson says: ‘It is deeply inspiring for me to exhibit in the almost domestic environment of the Foundation De 11 Lijnen in the village of Oudenburg, Belgium. Encountering artworks in such a space is an experience of great intimacy and hospitality. It brings tranquillity and a contemplative quality to the artworks shown there, and offers an opportunity to be slow, to focus, and to take a deep breath, to step back from the highly optimised, commodified ways of looking in the world today.’
Olafur Eliasson (°1967) grew up in Iceland and Denmark and studied from 1989 to 1995 at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In 1995, he founded his Berlin studio, which today encompasses approximately ninety craftsmen, specialised technicians, architects, archivists, administrators, programmers, art historians, and cooks. Since the mid-1990s, Eliasson has realised numerous major exhibitions and projects around the world, such as The curious garden, at Kunsthalle Basel in 1997, The mediated motion, at Kunsthaus Bregenz in 2001, and Chaque matin je me sens différent – chaque soir je me sens le même, at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris in 2002. In 2003, Eliasson represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale, and later that year he installed The weather project at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, London. Take your time: Olafur Eliasson, a survey exhibition organised by SFMOMA in 2007, travelled until 2010 to various venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Innen Stadt Aussen (Inner City Out), at Martin-Gropius-Bau in 2010, involved interventions across the city of Berlin as well as in the museum. Similarly, in 2011, Seu corpo da obra (Your body of work) engaged with three institutions around São Paulo – SESC Pompeia, SESC Belenzinho, and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo – and spread out into the city itself. In 2014, Riverbed filled an entire wing of Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art with stones and water, emulating a river in a rocky landscape; and later that year, Contact formed the inaugural exhibition at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris. The parliament of possibilities took place at Leeum, Samsung Museum of Modern Art, Seoul, in the winter of 2016/17. Eliasson’s project Green light – An artistic workshop, which was co-produced by Thyssen- Bornemisza Art Contemporary, debuted at TBA21–Augarten, Vienna, in 2016, before travelling to the Moody Center for the Arts, in Houston, Texas, and to the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia VIVA ARTE VIVA in 2017.
Eliasson’s projects in public space include Green river, carried out in various cities between 1998 and 2001; the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007, designed together with Kjetil Thorsen; The New York City Waterfalls, commissioned by Public Art Fund and installed on New York City shorelines during summer 2008; Your rainbow panorama (2011), a 150-metre circular, coloured-glass walkway situated on top of ARoS Museum in Aarhus, Denmark; Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre (2011), for which Eliasson created the facades in collaboration with Henning Larsen Architects; Cirkelbroen (The circle bridge), which opened in Copenhagen in 2015 and completes a new bicycle route around the Christianshavn harbour; and Ice Watch, for which Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing transported massive blocks of glacial ice from Greenland to public squares in Copenhagen (2014) and Paris (2015) to raise awareness of climate change.
As a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, Eliasson led the Institut für Raumexperimente (Institute for Spatial Experiments, 2009–14), a five-year experimental programme in arts education located in the same building as his studio (www.raumexperimente.net).
In 2012, Eliasson and engineer Frederik Ottesen founded Little Sun. The social business and global project provides clean, affordable light to communities around the world without access to electricity; encourages sustainable development through sales of the Little Sun solar-powered lamp, designed by Eliasson and Ottesen; and raises global awareness of the need for equal access to energy and light (www.littlesun.com).
In 2014, Eliasson and long-time collaborator Sebastian Behmann founded an international office for art and architecture, Studio Other Spaces, to focus on interdisciplinary and experimental building projects and works in public space.
Eliasson lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin.