Take your time: Olafur Eliasson, the first comprehensive survey in the United States to explore the highly experimental work of Olafur Eliasson, whose large-scale immersive environments and installations elegantly recreate the extremes of landscape and atmosphere in his native Iceland. In his work, Eliasson recontextualizes elements such as light, water, ice, fog, stone, and moss to create unique situations that shift the viewer’s perception of place and self. By transforming the galleries into hybrid spaces of nature and culture, Eliasson prompts an intensive engagement with the world and offers a fresh consideration of everyday life.
The exhibition’s 38 works include 14 of those featured in the originating exhibition first presented at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well as 24 additional works, six of which were uniquely designed for this exhibition.
Probing the cognitive aspects of what it means to see, Eliasson creates complex optical phenomena using simple, makeshift technical devices: Colored bulbs bathe a room in yellow light, turning everything inside monochrome; strobes illuminate a thin curtain of falling water, causing the eye to “freeze” the droplets in midair; kaleidoscopes produce colorful prismatic effects; mirrors reflect spotlight beams, revealing an artificial dimension. By making visible the mechanics of his works and laying bare the artifice of the illusion, Eliasson points to the elliptical relationship between reality, perception, and representation.
Inspired by the meteorology and terrain of his native Scandinavia, Eliasson often recontextualizes natural phenomena, as exemplified by his wall of reindeer moss at MoMA and indoor rainbow and upward-flowing waterfall at P.S.1. In his works these sights appear natural, yet invariably they are artificially induced. Even as his work fosters wonder, it also emphasizes the ways in which cultural institutions mediate our perception of natural phenomena.
The monumental new installation Take your time (2008), one of the six new works Eliasson created for the New York presentation, takes its name from the exhibition's title. A circular mirror, 40 feet in diameter and weighing 600 pounds, is mounted to the ceiling of P.S.1’s largest gallery at an angle and rotates at one revolution per minute, destabilizing viewers’ perception of space as they pass underneath it.
The Museum of Modern Art Web Site