Tags: art, color, light, minimalism, MoMA, New York, Olafur Eliasson
I have a huge backlog of Paris posts to type up, but this is time-sensitive (closing at the end of the month), so it’s coming first.
This weekend I schlepped all the way to New York because I just couldn’t bear to miss the Olafur Eliasson retrospective on right now at the MoMA. I like Eliasson because he’s not about art as stuff — instead of asking people to stand around and admire his beautiful objects, his art is about perception and intangible experience. There are objects, but the objects themselves aren’t the point, except in that they create an environment where strange, beautiful, unexpected experiences are possible.
This piece, for example, 360 degree room for all colors, is the one I first fell in love with when I saw it at the Tate modern back in 2004. My original description: “You enter this circular room in which glorious colored light emanates from the walls. Everything you look at is awash in the glow from the walls, but even better is if you stand right next to the wall so there’s nothing in your field of vision but pure colored light. It’s like staring right into the abyss, or confronting the face of God or something. Awesome and terrible all at once, so beautiful you feel as though you’d go mad if you don’t look away.” Obviously, the piece can’t really be conveyed by still photos on a computer screen, but if you want to get some vague idea of it, check out this slideshow.
Not everything in the show was a complete success. One of the most talked about pieces was the Reversed waterfall out at PS1 in Queens, and for all that I loved the concept, the execution failed to impress. As the title implies, “a system of pumps reverses the flow of water in this man made waterfall, sending the water streaming upward.” A wonderful, whimsical idea, but it turns out gravity is a mighty foe when it comes to rushing water — the whole piece looked like a glorified bubbler or drinking fountain, and nothing about it conveyed “waterfall” to me.
Beauty, on the other hand, (also at PS1), completely made up for it. Another totally unphotographable work, in which “a spotlight shines obliquely through a curtain of fine mist, creating an indoor rainbow.” Oh, but what a curtain!
Even though I knew it was water, there was a strange tactile, fabric-like quality to the mist — if you stood directly under it, it was like a shimmering, gossamer curtain billowing down on you, just slightly heavier than air. Definitely worth the trek out to Queens.
Okay, this post is getting on the long side, but please do check out the rest of the photos for more gorgeous experiments with light, color, and water.
at the MoMA and PS1 in New York until June 30th.