REVIEW: Olafur Eliasson, Take Your Time

May 20, 2008 § Leave a comment

One Way Color Tunnel, 2007
One Way Color Tunnel, 2007

When I first found out about Eliasson’s One Way Color Tunnel (2007)   I pissed my pants. When they dried, I wanted nothing more than to board the next flight from New York to San Francisco to experience Olafur in person. I calmed down, though, when I found out that New York’s MoMA + P.S.1. would get Eliasson this summer.

The New York branch of the Olafur Eliasson show does an O.K. job of giving museumgoers a general sense of Eliasson’s particular brand of science and art. A clear favorite was Ventilator (1997) which consists of a fan that hangs and swings from MoMA’s atrium. The illusion is that the fan will come dangerously close to your head.

Ventilator, 1997


And yet, I felt that the show was deeply boring. Take, for instance, the entire gallery that’s devoted to photographs of Eliasson’s work, or the other gallery that’s wholly devoted to MODELS of hot pieces Eliasson made elsewhere. WTF!?

It’s like, “Look at this hot ass art I made! Oops, too bad you bitches can’t see that shit in person.”

One of my favorite works by Eliasson, Room for One Color (1997), which is supposed to fill an entire gallery with a thick, monochromatic yellow light, in the spirit of Dan Flavin, was not contained in a single gallery. Instead it was spread out in a hallway, insuring that museumgoers overlooked the experience.

Room for One Color, 1997
Room for One Color, 1997

What I like about Eliasson’s work is the way it encourages viewer participation; the way it begs the question, HOW DID HE DO THAT?; and the way it seamlessly melds science and art. As a child, I always hated science class, but the beauty of Eliasson’s work is in its simplicity and how it manages to visualize the wonder of science.

Come on now. Where were the really FUN pieces like Your Black Horizon (2005); Your Mobile Experience (2007) or Notion Motion (2005)? See below.


Your Black Horizon, 2005

Your Mobile Experience,

Notion Motion, 2005

All I’m saying is MoMA + P.S.1. didn’t do justice to an otherwise super fierce artist. Their Eliasson retrospective was O.K., but doesn’t reflect his WOW! factor.


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