To celebrate the launch of the Autumn issue of Printed Pages, we’ll be giving you a taster of some of the articles all this week. Below you’ll find a short excerpt from the story as well as a couple of images; for the full piece you can buy the latest Printed Pages here.
One day in 2003, Olafur Eliasson’s phone rang. It was his long-time gallerist Tim Neuger who was visiting Olafur’s phenomenal installation in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The weather project involved a giant sun hung at one end of the enormous room and a series of mirrors on the ceiling. Tim watched as visitors arranged themselves to spell out the simple message “Fuck Bush” and held up his phone so that his friend could hear the whooping and cheering and roaring and catcalls and laughter that filled the cavernous space.
This kind of giddy joy is not uncommon when confronted by an Olafur Eliasson artwork. Try not to smile when you’re confronted by Ventilator, a huge swinging fan at New York’s MoMA. In the same city he built a series of huge waterfalls along the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn. People loved them; thousands of pictures were uploaded to Flickr within weeks of the work appearing.
“My works demand the visitors’ engagement; they are dependent on viewers to co-produce them,” he explains. “Many of my works are also about not only the visitor’s encounter with the work, but the visitors’ encounters with one another. This is endlessly fascinating.
“I do not mind if people are moved by my work without knowing, or even caring, about any of the theories behind it. I think the art world often treats people patronisingly: take guided audio tours in museums, for example. I enjoy watching people interact without any of this guidance, without the instructions.”