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Olafur Eliasson Interview: A Riverbed Inside the Museum

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Interview of Olafur Eliasson about his installation ‘Riverbed’ in Danish Louisiana Museum of Modern Art by Marc-Christoph Wagner. Video by Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

Like lava from a volcano, Olafur Eliasson’s fascinating installation ‘Riverbed’ runs through the Danish Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. The highly praised artist here shares his intriguing thoughts behind the installation.

“The currency of trust” is the fundament on which ‘Riverbed’ is built – an installation that, according to Eliasson, bears resemblance to both the contemplative power of a Japanese garden as well as of ancient Pompeii after the destructive outbreak of Mount Vesuvius. In our society, a lot of things are defined by exclusion, and public institutions such as museums have to show that they have full trust in the artwork, the artist and the visitor in order for the latter to feel completely included. “If an audience feels trusted, then they dare to get involved”, says Eliasson. To fully experience the installation, the visitors have to feel comfortable destabilizing themselves on purpose, in this case e.g. by rethinking their way of walking on the many rocks of his work.

The concept of reality intrigues Eliasson, who finds that the way we engage in the world is based on our ‘model’, whether it be a social, cultural or other type of model: “The way we take in the world is not natural, it’s cultural.” Thereby, it becomes a construction in which “the authorship of reality lies within the beholder and the museum is constituted by the visitor.” In other words, reality becomes the way in which you choose to perceive or handle your model. ‘Riverbed’ is thus a part of this unreality, for as Eliasson concludes, “There are no real things.”

Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) works with sculpture, painting, photography, film and installations. He grew up in Iceland and Denmark and studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine arts from 1989-1995. In 1995 he moved to Berlin where he founded Studio Olafur Eliasson. Eliasson is behind many major exhibitions and projects around the world, such as ‘The Weather Project’ at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2003, ‘Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson’ organized by SFMOMA in 2007, which travelled until 2010 to major venues such the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and ‘Riverbed’ at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in 2014. Among Eliasson’s projects in public space are ‘Green River’, carried out in various cities from 1998-2001 and ‘The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion’ in 2007 in collaboration with Kjetil Thorsen of Snøhetta. He lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin.

Olafur Eliasson was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in 2014.

Camera: Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Kamilla Bruus
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner, 2014
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Supported by Nordea-fonden

Louisiana Channel is a non-profit website based at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk, Denmark. With Louisiana Channel as a platform, Louisiana supplies culture to the Net that extends beyond the museum’s own events. The Louisiana team produces videos about art and culture on an ongoing basis, and new videos are posted at the site every week.

Louisiana Channel contributes to the permanent development of the museum as a cultural platform and wants to enhance the sense of the importance of art and culture. We see Louisiana Channel as a proposal for a part of a museum in tune with the 21st century, which is also able to hold the attention and interest of a new generation in cultural heritage, an intelligent present and an ambitious future.

It has always been Louisiana’s role to stimulate discussion of our society through the insights of art and the artists and the same goes for Louisiana Channel.

For more videos from Louisiana Channel, check their website: http://channel.louisiana.dk

 

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