Written by Thomas Stellmach

Olafur Eliasson @ NAi – Content kills Form?

Olafur Eliasson @ NAi – Content kills Form? by Thomas Stellmach


“I have a place where the designers – ah – architects – work. Oh my god, they would be so upset.”

Yesterday evening Olafur Eliasson held a lecture at the NAI, forming part of the “7 pillars of architecture” series (check our calendar for upcoming events!). His narrative was refreshingly engaging, hopping from the reasoning behind his work to early works, from perceptual experiments to the organisation of his studio.
Eliasson (OE on wikipedia) gained world-wide recognition with his ‘the weather project’ installation in the main hall of the modern tate.

green river, oslo & kopenhaven

“What does it mean to get involved?” is the question OE tries to answer through his work. In the early 90ies, he dropped a bucket of green color into a local river passing through Oslo – thus creating a beautiful and alienating effect, and the adequate alarm of the press. The aesthetic component of the project is not the Eliassons point, though: “It’s not about decoration, it’s about critique and dialogue” he claims.

Oscillating LED

His research and work then moved on from color perception experiments to shapes generated translating sounds into three-dimensional space. A logical next step was to experiment not only with natural oscillations, but to directly generate shapes via parametric software. His work then developed towards spatial experiments – expandable tents, pavillions, facades.

the antispective situation, Kanazawa Museum of Art, Japan, 2004

Olafur Eliasson

Denmark, Aarhus: 360° rainbow horizon

He states that all his spatial work is about people, and the consequences of the space upon them. Thus he criticises the general loss of faith in the consequences of one’s actions, the lack of experimentality, friction, and purpose. This is also his critique toward’s the architecture: “I talk to architects on a daily basis. And it’s never about why, only about how.”

He hopes that a new field will evolve from the domain of architecture: “A spatial practice about communal and social interaction, to sustain a kind of collective, with responsable criticality.” Asked for his dreams, he answered, “This is so boring, but I dream that content will kill form.” Which sounds unfitting. His entire work, based on perception and interaction, is highly aesthetic. The projects do start with rational experimentation, and this origin resonates in each work – but to let content kill form would probably also kill Olafur’s stunning work.

See also Eliasson’s website (where somo of the pics of this post come from), more pics of the lecture on our flickr page and kunstaspekte (de) for an exhibition calendar.

This summer Eliasson is going to publish a magazine, to be called either “take your time ” or “small spaces of experiments”, which will contain all the little things that don’t get to be built. Stay tuned.

More pictures:

  Comments ( 3 )

  1. […] first U.S. survey of this Icelandic artist’s oeuvre — date from 1993 to the present and reflect all facets of his creative practice. Eliasson describes his artworks as “devices for the experience of […]

  2. […] Kjetil Thorsen och superstarkonstnären Olafur Eliasson [wiki] (föreläsning – Content kills form NAI via Dysturb) fick, om än något sent, uppdraget att rita årets […]

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