Image used on Blog post '1903' (from S3)

Photo: @JustinWu

Saturday was the 5th anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, and as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Olafur would like to share an important message from the UNDP: 2020 is a year many of us are ready to leave behind us. But it is in turbulent times like these when we think of those who are impacted by this pandemic the most. The combination of climate change and COVID-19 is increasing inequalities and placing half the world – 4 billion people – at even greater risk of falling and staying behind. As the intensifying climate crisis and the surging pandemic widen the divide between rich and poor, inaction is not an option. We need a total response to protect our planet and people. And we need it today. @UNDP #WorldIsInOurHands #HalfTheWorld

Image used on Blog post '1901' (from S3)

‘Caring Northern Light’ and ‘Lucky Stone’, two elements of Olafur’s artwork ‘WUNDERKAMMER’, 2020

‘The current pandemic has caused immeasurable suffering and disrupted so much of our everyday existence together. This is especially true for those of us who value and take part in cultural life. Because many of the important cultural sites that we take for granted are all closed – cinemas, theatres, concert houses, clubs, museums and stadiums – the only public spaces where we can move about safely together is outdoors, in the shared space of the city. It’s important to celebrate – even now – that public space belongs to all of us and that it is, in fact, very valuable.’ – Olafur @Dazed

The exhibition ‘Unreal City’ is on now through 5 January. It features 36 digital sculptures arranged as a walking tour along the River Thames, including Olafur Eliasson’s artwork ‘WUNDERKAMMER’, 2020. The sculptures, created to be experienced in AR using Apple’s ARKit, are arranged across 24 sites between Waterloo Bridge and Millennium Bridge on the Southbank. Organized by Acute Art and Dazed Media, featuring works by Olafur Eliasson, Cao Fei, Alicja Kwade, Koo Jeong A, Marco Brambilla, Darren Bader, KAWS, Bjarne Melgaard, and Tomás Saraceno.

To view the exhibition, download the free Acute Art app on your device to get the map and view the artworks.
https://acuteart.com/

Image used on Blog post '1899' (from S3)

‘Earth Speakr’, 2020

What does a stone know? Or as Hugo Reinert put it in his essay ‘About a Stone: Some Notes on Geologic Conviviality’, ‘What kind of critter might a stone be? Does it have a life, or something like it? What modes of passionate immersion – or love, or intimacy – could a stone afford?’

Thinking along with more-than-human perspectives is essential to imagining possible futures, and kids are doing just that through Earth Speakr, an artwork started by Olafur and created with kids, for kids to express themselves by creating messages about the climate and their own future.

Earth Speakr is funded by the Federal Foreign Office on the occasion of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020 and realised in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut.

Your museum primer, 2014 - K20 Grabbeplatz, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, 2014 - Photo: Christian Uchtmann / Studio Olafur Eliasson

‘Your museum primer’, 2014

There have been multiple articles written recently about the future of museums and other cultural institutions in light of low visitor attendance, reduced revenue, and subsequent funding crises. To survive the current pandemic reality, we wonder, how will the museum reinvent itself? And who will do the reinventing? Will the main stewardship lie with the institutions themselves, or will it shift more towards the public?

A piece Olafur wrote about 17 years ago uncannily resonates with the situation today (notice his prescient use of ‘immune system’ and ‘virus’ metaphors):

‘As long as we have had art history, we have had the discussion about whether art should be referred to as a representational system (reflecting society like a mirror) or whether it is an integrated part of society itself. If we consider art as one of many cultural trajectories in a society, these questions are little different from asking if the weather is separable from the city. Of course the art institution is an integral part of the life of a city. Cultural institutions are among the many “immune systems” of a society’s self-reflection. When a “virus” such as the commodification of our senses attacks us, and the developing identity of the city’s life is challenged, the immune system is (or should be) active in restoring a plausible dialogue involving some sense of resistance. It is important to note here that I doubt whether art has any power to change things directly; I consider the field of artistic practice to be more like a giant laboratory, where research on multiple fields is constantly being conducted.’ – excerpt from Olafur’s text ‘Museums Are Radical’, from ‘The weather project’ catalogue, 2003

Olafur Eliasson and Andri Snær Magnason in conversation – Pt 2/2 : On hope

Part 2: Olafur and Andri Snær Magnason in conversation at the Berlin studio, talking about hope, contemporary mythos, and how to scale language to meet the enormity of climate change.

Magnason is author of the book ‘On Time and Water’ (2019), as well as the poetic eulogy ‘A Letter to the Future’ (2019), engraved on a plaque at the site of the dead Okjökull glacier in Iceland.

Olafur Eliasson and Andri Snær Magnason in conversation – Pt 1/2 : On time

Part 1: Olafur Eliasson and Andri Snær Magnason in conversation about making time tangible, timelessness versus embodied temporality, and the question ‘who is the keeper of time?’

Magnason is author of the book ‘On Time and Water’ (2019), as well as the poetic eulogy ‘A Letter to the Future’ (2019), engraved on a plaque at the site of the dead Okjökull glacier in Iceland.

Image used on Blog post '1893' (from S3)

A cellular landscape – the most detailed model of a human cell to date, obtained using x-ray, nuclear magnetic resonance, and cryoelectron microscopy datasets. Credit: Evan Ingersoll & Gael McGill – Digizyme’s Molecular Maya custom software

‘I think if we think of ourselves as being inhabited by organisms – or once free-living organisms [that are] now completely tethered organisms – that have their own needs, for food, for stimulation, for all sorts of sensory proclivities that I just mentioned, that we can find a continuity between living consciousness, awareness, and sensitivity, at a microscopic level and at a macroscopic level. I think that throughout biological history, fusion of different organismal types has been much underestimated as an evolutionary phenomenon, and we see this in social organization of people. We see a beehive or an ant hill as a phenomenon made of individuals but far beyond individuals and their capacity. E.O. Wilson describes Amazonian ants that stretch across many many trees and make structures with their bodies, that any of the ants by themselves could never survive, but as these massive communities, essentially cities of ants succeed in feeding and reproducing in ways that are unthinkable for the individuals. I think that that’s fundamentally the idea.’ – Lynn Margulis, Sputnik Observatory interview

How can this notion of a single organism having evolved from microscopic social organisation prompt us to reassess our fundamental assumptions about the individual? Where does the individual end and the community begin? And how can this questioning of the individual reshape not only how we see ourselves, but also how we see our place in our communities, in the more-than-human sphere, and as political agents? A beautifully detailed image of a single cell, comprised of countless, interdependent, thriving parts, seems like a good place to start.

Interpretive flare display of unthought thoughts, 2020

(Sound on!) ‘Interpretive flare display of unthought thoughts’, 2020 – a clip from the latest video by SHIMURAbros of Olafur’s work. Music by Mamoru.

Your uncertain shadow (colour), 2010 - The Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Vienna, 2015 - Photo: Anders Sune Berg

‘Your uncertain shadow (colour)’, 2010

‘It’s important to say what hope is not: it is not a belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and tremendous destruction. The hope I’m interested in is about broad perspectives with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. ... Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting.’ – Rebecca Solnit, ‘Hope in the Dark’, 2004/2016

Image used on Blog post '1887' (from S3)

Olafur Eliasson: Near future living light is on view until 24 October at neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

Image used on Blog post '1887' (from S3)
Image used on Blog post '1887' (from S3)
Image used on Blog post '1887' (from S3)
Image used on Blog post '1887' (from S3)

'If we focus on a simple shape as it shifts, pulsates, grows, and shrinks in a darkened space, it becomes surprisingly easy to deceive our perceptual apparatuses, to upend what we know to be true, and to fool ourselves into asking: is the shape, in fact, simply growing bigger or smaller on a flat surface or is it moving closer to us and further away in space. The quiet atmosphere of Near future living light is defined by emergence and slow transformation. A spotlight, a black box, and a wall collaborate to form a space defined by abstraction that invites us to exercise our imagination in confronting how we normally see and navigate the world.’ – Olafur

‘Sustainability research lab’, 2020, now on view at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, until 27 September.

‘Sustainability research lab’, 2020, now on view at Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, until 27 September.
Video by SHIMURAbros, music by mamoru
Visit Sometimes the river is the bridge

#weusedto WEUSED.TO

WeUsed.To was conceptualised by Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin in collaboration with Andreas Roepstorff and a group of researchers at the Interacting Minds Centre at Aarhus University, along with Alan Woo and Daniel Massey. It is part of the ongoing research collaboration ‘Experimenting, Experiencing, Reflecting’ (EER), funded by Carlsbergfondet.

Who is we?

The WeUsed.To platform carves out space for people to share their experiences of COVID-19. Perhaps through the wide spectrum of individual contributions we can find what thoughts, feelings, realisations, and insights we have in common. When writing a statement, users choose to frame their contribution using ‘I’ or ‘we’. An ‘I’ signals a clearly individual perspective, of course. A ‘we’, however, it more ambiguous. What perspective does that ‘we’ represent? Whom are we speaking for? ‘We’ can be an inclusive pronoun, acknowledging a broader community with shared concerns. And ‘we’ can be exclusive, sometimes inadvertently leaving out groups or elevating one ‘we’ at the expense of other ‘we’s. A particular use of ‘we’ is innocent to one user but will be exclusive and even unjust to others. As WeUsed.To has unfolded, ‘we’ the project initiators have witnessed this. And the complexity of ‘we’ has afforded in-depth conversations about how to deal with the term. Not only do COVID-19-related topics appear on the platform, but also concerns related to political events and race discussions. As authors of the site, we find it important to acknowledge the potential friction in ‘we’ statements while retaining the option for users to choose their perspective. The ‘I’/‘we’ choice is an invitation to actively become aware of and reflect on the communities we participate in, their scope, and their co-existence and/or overlap with other communities – or lack of the very same. It is an invitation to reflect on who speaks and for whom, and on what these speech acts do in the world. Visit WeUsed.To

Olafur Eliasson on Earth Speakr, for kids!

Earth Speakr launches today!
Kids across the continent are invited to collectively create an artwork by speaking up for the future of our planet, via the Earth Speakr app.
Visit www.earthspeakr.art to learn more.

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Olafur Eliasson, Beyond human time, 2020 is open at i8 Gallery in Reykjavik
On view until 15 August

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Solar short term memory (8 seconds), 2020

Image used on Blog post '1881' (from S3)
Image used on Blog post '1881' (from S3)
Are you an Earth Speakr?

What does it sound like when we become a voice for the planet? Olafur has created Earth Speakr with the studio, kids, creative partners, researchers, and other experts.
Earth Speakr consists of an app and an interactive website (in all 24 official EU languages), as well as physical presentations in key locations. To amplify children’s ideas and concerns about the wellbeing of our planet, Olafur and the team are working with a growing network across the EU, including museums, schools, and libraries to expand the reach of this collective artwork.

The artwork launches officially on 1 July and will evolve over the course of 2020 with the active participation of kids across the EU.
This work is funded by the Federal Foreign Office in the context of the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2020 and realised in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut across the EU.
Visit earthspeakr.art

Stella McCartney virtual studio visit with Olafur Eliasson, May 2020

Stella McCartney virtual studio visit with Olafur Eliasson, May 2020

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