Olafur Eliasson | Geneva, Switzerland
Objects defined by the activity
Espace Muraille, 5 place de casemates, 1204 Geneva, Switzerland
January 24th – April 28th, 2018
Olafur Eliasson: Objets définis par l’activité, at Espace Muraille, brings together a selection of 16 artworks which attest to Olafur Eliasson’s research on time, perception, space, movement, and the relativity of reality.
Eliasson is an artist who understands our era not only from a scientific and aesthetic point of view but also with a sense of communal ecological urgency, as exemplified by his projects Little Sun, Ice Watch, and Green light – An artistic workshop. The works in this exhibition are good examples of what the artist refers to as ‘experimental setups’– they trigger viewers’ perceptions, encourage them to move about and examine the works from various perspectives. This reflects Eliasson’s idea that viewers play a key role in coproducing the artworks.
In the first room, a series of small sculptures explore Eliasson’s geometric vocabulary as well as his experiments with reflection, refraction, and painting with light. Among these are a work comprising panes of coloured, hand-blown glass that depict two overlapping sets of ellipses; a new painting from Eliasson’s colour experiment series that presents viewers with a confrontation between deep black and the colours of the rainbow; and a work that plays – via the magnifying capacity of a shallow concave mirror – with viewers’ sense of scale.
The next room introduces watercolours that explore the effects of overlapping washes of colour or were created by allowing a fragment of glacial ice to melt atop a wash of watercolour pigment. Time is momentarily suspended when faced with the grace of these works, which encourage viewers to question humanity’s impact on nature.
On the lower floor, visitors are greeted by Black glass sun, made from a dark circle of convex glass ringed by a bright halo of monofrequency light, and The gaze of Versailles, two golden eyes that gaze back at the viewer. Passing through a curtain into a darkened space, viewers encounter the final works in the exhibition: Object defined by activity (now/soon/then). These three water-sculptures are revealed by the rhythmic flash of stroboscopic lights. Seemingly suspended by the flashes of light, the aquatic arrangements appear to freeze in time, although the sound of splashing droplets in the dark allows viewers to discern the ongoing process.
About the artist
Olafur Eliasson’s art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. Eliasson strives to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large. Art, for him, is a crucial means for turning thinking into doing in the world. Eliasson’s diverse works – in sculpture, painting, photography, film, and installations – have been exhibited widely throughout the world. Not limited to the confines of the museum and gallery, his practice engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects and interventions in civic space.
Eliasson was born in 1967. He grew up in Iceland and Denmark and studied, from 1989 to 1995, at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. In 1995, he moved to Berlin and founded Studio Olafur Eliasson, which today encompasses some ninety craftsmen, specialised technicians, architects, archivists, administrators, programmers, art historians, and cooks.