Olafur Eliasson
Denmark, 1967
Olafur Eliasson studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. He lives and works in Copenhagen and in Berlin, where in 1995 he founded Studio Olafur Eliasson to pursue his projects, which include photographic series, sculptures, interventions in public spaces, and installations. An example of the latter is The Weather Project, a 2003 project created for the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, in which the light of a monumental artificial sun filled the entire space. The work carried out by his studio also allows him to collaborate on architectural projects and interventions in the public space. His collaboration with two architectural practices on Harpa, the Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre, earned him the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award in 2013. Eliasson also works as a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts, where in 2009 he set up the Institute for Spatial Experiments, an innovative educational project for developing the visual arts. Perhaps as a result of his Icelandic roots, Eliasson’s artistic output has always reflected an intense and sustained interest in landscape. This is evident in photographic series like ‘The Volcano Series’ and ‘The Hut Series’ (both completed in 2012), in which mosaics of photographs, like a detailed archive, present volcanic craters found in nature (in the first series) and isolated huts that seem almost to have been assimilated into the natural environment (in the second). Technology has also played an important role in his work by allowing him to get closer to nature. In particular, it has enabled him to explore light and different forms of perception—both visual and via the entire body—that we can experience. His works reach back to the kinetic art movement, inviting us to participate and interact, to observe and feel phenomena like the effects of light, colour and movement on the surrounding space. Your Position Surrounded and Your Surroundings Positioned, an installation that Eliasson created in 1999 to be presented at Dundee Contemporary Arts in Scotland, exemplifies some of the most significant aspects of his installations. The viewer played a key role in the work, becoming the centre of the installation and activating a constant movement of light and shadows simply by moving around the space. Two large lanterns, each constructed around a 2,000-watt light bulb, were positioned slightly off-centre in the space. Their metal casings allowed a slim band of light to escape as they rotated at different speeds, propelled simply by the circulation of the air around them, which was warmed by the intense heat given off by the bulbs. In the exhibition catalogue published to accompany the presentation of the installation, Katrina Brown described the complex sensory effect caused by the work as follows: ‘[the installation] negotiates an encounter between knowledge and experience, or rather it exposes the existence of a realm between the two, which includes both subjective experience and objective knowledge. It emphasises the viewer’s position “at the centre of his/her world”. [...] Having entered the space to look at what it contains, the viewer finds him/herself part of a spatial experiment.’
Glòria Picazo