Monday, December 18, 2017

Olafur Eliasson. Moderna Museet, Stockholm Skeppsholmen.

Olafur Eliasson. Moderna Museet, Stockholm Skeppsholmen.

It brings me little pleasure to admit in public that I have often been
skeptical towards the artwork of Olafur Eliasson, especially given the
fact that an early encounter with him during a lecture series Die Kunst
und Ihr Außen at UDK Berlin, organized by Heike Föll, which I wrote about
for Raimar Stange's art Magazine Neue Review in the winter of 2004 was
positive. Indeed I did enjoy his descriptions of his early works
"Strömmen". In subsequent years I have had a healthy over-dose of
Eliasson's work, the bridge project he made in the summer of 2008 in New
York City where I lived at the time, and numerous encounters with his work
in Iceland.

While his contributions to the current vernacular of large budget
temporary installation art is impossible to ignore, so too is the debate
which continues to swirl around his entrée into architecture see the Harpa
concert hall in Reykjavik. Negative criticism of his concert house range
from the costs of cleaning the house, to the reminder it is of
uncomfortable times during the bankruptcy in Iceland in 2010, when
construction on the site was placed on indefinite pause, and the excesses
of the design expense and the custom made in China modular glass and steel
cells for Harpa's façade seemed to embody the excesses and fast money
lending speculative loans of the pre credit crisis era.

I have come to regard the soft spoken artist whom I met in 2004 as
something of a contemporary artistic titan, both industrious and
problematic at the same time. The white elephant which makes the work of
Eliasson so unpalatable for art students familiar with the Icelandic art
scene remains a ghost elephant. That phantom being the obvious debt that
Olafur Eliasson owes to an older Icelandic polymath and architect the
late, Eianar Thorstienn (1942-2015).

Finally at last this debt has been attended to in public, in an
installation of models made in the studio. On view in Moderna Museet in
Stockholm. Moderna is currently under the directorship of Daniel Birnbaum,
the one-time Director of IASPIS, (a studio program in Stockholm) where
Olafur made his "Strömmen". So the story that Eliasson relates, that
Birnbaum helped him to dump vats of green dye in the Stockholm sound,
which led to the front-page sensationalistic reportage of the Green River!

The vitrine is sensationalistic in its abundance so much models, so much
work. A geometric orgy, with figures galore! Hanging bodies, mirrored
lights the sodium lamps and their earie deep yellow cast for which
Eliasson is so well known. And on the captions describing the massive
output of models, which are representative of works in private collections
special exhibitions like that of Baroque / Baroque in the winter palace
for example. All this profit for "the studio" and now a measure of credit
to his collaborator who one should say networking and business acumen,
enabled to produce elegant geodesic solutions.

I thought that cumulative effect of looking at all of the models all at
once, was more humane than the proposition of standing beneath the "awe"
of a bombastic artificial waterfall. To me the model making is more of an
art process. At the risk of sounding even more unfashionable I will ask:
who then is the author of the models?

Birnbaum also then enables his long-term friend and collaborator Eliasson
to make an ultimate expression of transparency in art. It is a glass case
long, raised and filled in, like the shark tank of Damien Hirst's the
physical impossibility of death in the mind of the living, overgrown to
the size of a steel container to a cubic tone that one normally encounters
on the back of flatbed 18 wheel transport vehicle, or on the deck of a
container ship.

Transparent cargo, a plethora of intellectual capital as expressed by
handmade makettes of humble materials, Lego blocks, wooden tongue
depressors, gauge 6 aluminum wire. An exciting proposition to see, Laid
bare, the Ideas behind the titan of Icelandic contemporary art.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.