Olafur Eliasson wants to “create art that allows people to be singular and plural, to have an individual experience… and at the same time engage with other people and the landscape around them.” The Scandinavian artist is ostensibly obsessed with “engaging people” through his art and though he says he does not create representations, he has naught but social messages to actually say.

For much, much more about Eliasson’s work, check out this post at Silliman’s Blog:

Eliasson uses diverse techniques, ranging from photography to sculpture to light & mirrors to moss to, in one stunning instance a viewer might miss because it’s two floors from the main portion of the exhibition, a BMW racing car encased in two tons of ice, stored in a room kept at roughly 14° Fahrenheit (the day I was there it hovered between 12 & 13). What would an illiterate fishmonger make of that? […]

From my perspective, the most interesting of the 21 works was 360°room for all colours, a very nearly circular space – there is an entranceway that takes out perhaps 10 percent of the experience – that consists entirely of light being projected across this panorama. At times, the entire circle is one color – most often white, although at least once I noticed a cherry red. More often, swatches of the spectra occupy different portions of the circle, either moving gradually around the panorama or shifting very subtly into whatever will come next. While I was there, relatively few people were observing the entire panorama, say from its center or the door way. Most, myself included, positioned themselves maybe two inches from one spot, so that the light would entirely fill their field of vision. This is an intense experience, and may not be suited for everyone. What you notice, close up, are three things, only one of which is the light itself. You also notice physical items that are part of your own viewing apparatus, floaters in the middle of the eyeball. At 61, I have more than a few of these translucent strings, although in daily life I hardly ever notice them. Far less so these days than I did, say, 15 years ago when I had cataracts in both eyes that required surgery. Without the impinging shadows of the cataracts that were literally robbing me of my sight & thereby rendering me hyperaware of it, these floaters are no big deal & I never think about them, even though they’re there all the time, tiny deposits of hardened protein in the middle of my eyeballs. […]

Eliasson is quoted as saying that his work is about experience rather than objects, which walking through the museum bears out in spaces, save for the one room that consists of models built by Eliasson and his assistants that reveal them to be exploring the potential in geometric variations with considerable care & precision. This is not that far from, say, the poetics of Robert Grenier, particularly the more recent scrawl and drawn pieces where the whole trick of the work is simply to be able to decipher it, so that you feel the language going off in your head. Both Eliasson and Grenier also share the fact of being fun, which invariably must make some people suspicious. Can this be art? Eliasson, like Grenier, is an argument for the affirmative.

( graphic: Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, Tate Modern, London, 2004. © Olafur Eliasson, Photo: © Tate Photography Marcus Leith/Andrew Dunkley )