Objects defined by activity, a small, but significant exhibition at Espace Muraille, brings the mindful planet activism of Olafur Eliasson to Geneva.

Walking into Olafur Eliasson’s world is like reaching deep into the ocean and out to the stars at the same time. His is a world that suspends us in a cosmic flow of energy, both to challenge and to tame the physical properties that govern us. And he turns the process into the sharpest and wittiest art that we can see today.

Sculptures of water that punch time in the face (they cannot stay still), circles of light that dissolve into prism rainbows, the ubiquitous Eliasson mirrors that transcend selfies; it is the constant teasing of everything that makes our physical selves, but that we never take the time to see.

Then, now, soon

This is art that crystalizes the past, the present and the future in a single moment: the past is man’s desire and ability to understand the rules of nature, the present is what we do with these rules, the future is their creative transformation. With Olafur Elisasson, we have all three wrapped into one, as he invites us to think carefully of what we are doing to our planet.

The essence of his creativity, and that of the formidable armada of young talents that populate his Berlin studio, is to switch us into a state of marvel: how can ideas so simple make us feel so grand? And how can they frighten us into being more respectful of nature?

Objects defined by activity

There are only 13 objects and three glacier watercolors (produced by allowing chunks of ancient glacial ice fished off the coast of Greenland to melt on a page) in the tiny Geneva gallery, but each one is a world of exploration on its own.

My favorites are the water sculptures under stroboscopic lights (named: now, then and soon) into which one can plunge a hand, a moment that disturbs the energy of the universe.

In a city renowned for its geyser and Calvinistic froideur, such liberty is a welcome change.

Olafur Eliasson – Objets définis par l’activité – 24 janvier – 28 avril 2018 

Espace Muraille

Olafur Eliasson

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Michèle Laird, née Haffner, was an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London, before moving to Switzerland and becoming an arts journalist.

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