Reality is relative
The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) is one of the most important figures in the contemporary art scene. He creates immersive installations that speak to our senses and dissolve the boundaries between the viewer and the work. His spatial works invite us to think about our selves and our perception as well as the important issues of our time.The new works the artist created specially for the Kunsthaus focus on the relationship between people, animals, plants and other species inhabiting Earth.
‘My senses are my experiential guides – they generate my innermost awareness of time while generously giving depth to my surroundings. Constantly and critically invested in the world of today, they receive, evaluate, and produce my reality.’
Reality is relative
Algae window (2020) is a circular arrangement of glass spheres mounted in a wall.
Directly behind the wall and the spheres is a window; vivid, miniature, inverted views of the scene outside the gallery thus appear in and inhabit each sphere. The composition of the work closely resembles the structure of one type of the single-celled algae known as diatoms, which remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
The patterns are reminiscent of the lithographs of diatoms published by the German physician and zoologist Ernst Haeckel in his book Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms in Nature) in 1904. ‘The main purpose of my Kunstformen der Natur was an aesthetic one. I wished to give a larger number of people access to the wonderful and beautiful treasures which are hidden in the depths of the sea or which, due to their small size, can only be seen under the microscope.’
‘I make the construction accessible to the visitors in order to heighten their awareness that each artwork is an option or model.’
In Algae window Olafur Eliasson creates an optical illusion that literally turns the world upside down. For Eliasson, however, it’s not about devising optical tricks; instead, he seeks to question established certainties and rigid systems of thought. By enlarging the microscopic images of individual diatoms to such an extent that a human being suddenly appear small by comparison, he prepares the ground for new forms of understanding and an alternative view of the world.