‘Life’ is live! If you are unable to travel to the Fondation Beyeler in person, a specially-produced multi-channel livestream introduces alternating multispecies perspectives of ‘Life’. You can visit this link at any time of day or night to see the exhibition from alternating human and nonhuman perspectives.

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Installation view of Future Assembly, now on view in the Central Pavilion at the Giardini in Venice. Future Assembly is Studio Other Spaces' collaborative contribution to La Biennale di Venezia 17th International Architecture Exhibition 'How will we live together?', curated by Hashim Sarkis.

For La Biennale di Venezia 17th International Architecture Exhibition, Studio Other Spaces responds to curator Hashim Sarkis’s question 'How will we live together?' with Future Assembly, a collaboration with six co-designers and fifty Biennale Architettura 2021 participants. The diverse group of designers and spatial practitioners imagine a more-than-human assembly for the future, inspired by the current paradigm for a multilateral assembly – the United Nations.

Located on the mezzanine of the Central Pavilion at the Giardini, Future Assembly comprises a display of fifty more-than-human ‘stakeholders’ from around the world submitted by the participants of Biennale Architettura 2021. These stakeholders – which include, among other things, fungi, estuaries, and ephemeral gases – represent those living and non-living entities whose rights are traditionally left out of human legislation. All fifty stakeholders convene on the shared ground of the Future Assembly World Map, a circular carpet, twelve metres in diameter, woven from up-cycled ocean plastic. Human attempts to recognise and secure the rights of nature during the 75-year history of the Charter of the United Nations are presented in the More-than-human Chart, which spans three walls of the exhibition. Visitors can further explore Future Assembly online at www.futureassembly.earth.

The eight co-designers are Studio Other Spaces (SOS) – represented by its founders, artist Olafur Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann – with Caroline A. Jones, professor of art history; Hadeel Ibrahim, activist; Kumi Naidoo, Global ambassador, Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity; Mariana Mazzucato, professor and founding director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London; Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders and adjunct professor of climate justice at Trinity College; and Paola Antonelli, senior curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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‘Life’ at Fondation Beyeler, Basel. Photo: Pati Grabowicz

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‘Life’ at Fondation Beyeler, Basel. Photo: Mark Niedermann

‘Life’ doesn’t go to sleep at night.

‘Neurobiologist Anna Wirz-Justice has done incredible research into the science of biological time, of our daily rhythms – the so-called circadian rhythms – and into how these rhythms govern human behaviour and physiology. But they also impact most other living organisms – from the smallest bacteria, fungi, and plants to flies and fish and mammals – as they have all internalised these external, geophysical rhythms and have a remarkably similar set of “clock genes” that generate an internal cycle of about twenty-four hours.’ – Olafur Eliasson

Life, 2021 - Fondation Beyeler – 2021 - Photo: Pati Grabowicz

‘Life’ at Fondation Beyeler, Basel. Photo: Patricia Grabowicz

‘“Life” presents a model for a future landscape. It is hospitable. When Sam Keller, the Director of the Fondation Beyeler, and I first discussed the exhibition a couple of years ago, I thought, “Why don’t we invite everyone to the show? Let’s invite the planet – plants and various species.” Beyond just opening a door, I decided to remove the structural boundaries that keep the outside out of the institution, and I am grateful to the Fondation Beyeler and to the architect Renzo Piano, who built the museum, for trusting me to carefully – and caringly – have the glass facade removed from the building. Together with the museum, I am giving up control over the artwork, so to speak, handing it over to human and non-human visitors, to plants, microorganisms, the weather, the climate – many of these elements that museums usually work very hard to keep out. Instead, we are trying to welcome everyone and everything in.’ – Olafur Eliasson

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‘Life’ at Fondation Beyeler, Basel. In collaboration with VOGT Case Studio. Photo: Patricia Grabowicz

‘Ever since I began practising as an artist in the early 1990s, I have been interested in perception and in the cognitive and cultural conditions that shape it. “Life” comes to life through your active encounter with it, through your perception. I’ve chosen not to offer a didactic or explanatory text to accompany the artwork, as this might shape visitors’ perceptions and understandings of the exhibition. It’s important to me not to share a finite perspective on “Life”. At the same time, I welcome what visitors bring with them to the artwork, their expectations and memories, thoughts and emotions.’ – Olafur Eliasson

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Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition ‘Life’ is in continuous transformation, and anyone visiting the park surrounding the Fondation Beyeler in Basel can see the artwork as it develops. The exhibition has slowly started to emerge and will fade away in July. In this way, the construction and deconstruction of ‘Life’ become integral parts of the artwork. In collaboration with VOGT Case Studio. Photo: Patricia Grabowicz

Edgy but perfect kinship sphere, 2020 - Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York – 2021 - Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

‘Edgy but perfect kinship sphere’, an artwork in Olafur’s solo exhibition ‘Your ocular relief’ at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York. On view through 24 April. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

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Installation view of Olafur’s current solo exhibition ‘Your ocular relief’, now on view at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York. Photo: Tom Powel Imaging

Your ocular relief, 2021

‘Your ocular relief’, 2021 – the central artwork of Olafur Eliasson's current solo exhibition ‘Your ocular relief’, at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York. On view through 24 April 2021.

On a curved screen in the darkened gallery, an evocative lightshow of ever-changing shapes, colours, and shadows, created through reflection and refraction of light, emerges and evolves. The sequence develops and vanishes in a slow continuum that is at once two-dimensional and architectural. The viewer, despite knowing that the shapes she is watching emerge are only light projections sees space and three-dimensional forms where there are none. Behind the screen, the viewer can glimpse the apparatuses that are responsible for the complex lightshow – an orchestra of lenses, prisms, mirrors, and colour-effect filters. Many of these lenses were languishing in storage at the studio, the leftover pieces from other artworks and experiments, before being retooled for this artwork. Motors turn the various elements within the spotlights, so that the movements unleash a sequence of distortions, reflections, and refractions on the screen. The resulting composition makes visible the physical phenomenon of light bending and splitting. Although the sequence repeats in a continuous loop, the abstract nature of the work makes it appear always new, beyond simple comprehension.

As inspiration for his projection works, Olafur Eliasson cites the experiments in film and photography of the early twentieth century by constructivist and expressionist artists like Hans Richter and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy.

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We are happy to announce ‘Your ocular relief’, Olafur Eliasson’s eleventh solo exhibition with Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York, on view from 9 March through 24 April 2021.

Since the early 1990s, Olafur Eliasson’s practice has concentrated around the investigation of perception, often using natural phenomena to heighten our understanding of each other and our surroundings. ‘Your ocular relief’ continues his long-standing investigation of the cognitive and cultural conditions of perception, seeking to offer an alternative to the current pressures that shape our existence.

‘I hope that “Your ocular relief” offers a moment to exhale. In this past year – at a time when it felt as if there were no release, no relaxation – I became convinced that we need a moment of relief, of beauty, of letting go, in order to conceive of a better tomorrow. Before you have hope, you have to have relief.’ – Olafur Eliasson

The glacier melt series 1999/2019, 2019 (detail) - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – 2020 - Photo: Erika Ede

‘The glacier melt series 1999/2019’, 2019. Now on view as part of Olafur’s solo exhibition ‘In real life’ at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Photos: Erika Ede

The glacier melt series 1999/2019, 2019 - Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – 2020 - Photo: Erika Ede

In 1999, Olafur Eliasson photographed several dozen glaciers in Iceland as part of his on-going project to document the natural phenomena of the country; this particular series of photographs formed a work called ‘The glacier series’. Twenty years later, Eliasson decided to return to Iceland to photograph the glaciers again. A new work, ‘The glacier melt series 1999/2019’, brings together thirty pairs of images from 1999 and 2019 to reveal the dramatic impact that global warming is having on our world.

Your waste of time, 2006 - neugerriemschneider, Berlin, 2006 - Photo: Jens Ziehe

‘Your waste of time’, 2006. Several blocks of ice from Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Iceland, were removed from the glacial lake Jökulsárlón, into which Vatnajökull flows. Part of the ice is thought to have been formed around 1200 CE. Weighing six tonnes in all, the blocks were transported to the Berlin gallery neugerriemschneider, where they were exhibited in a refrigerated space. Photo: Jens Ziehe

‘It is a challenge to verbalise time itself, even though, paradoxically, talking takes time. Describing time in conversation tends to take away the duration from it, as it is mostly described as an idea or concept. For me, the idea of time becomes especially abstract when we consider the history of our universe, the vast time of deep cosmology, the geological time in the history of the planet, the history of the atmosphere, the history of mountains. Vatnajökull, the glacier from which the blocks of ice in Your waste of time come, formed some 2,500 years ago; the oldest ice that still exists in it is from around 1200 CE. This span of time lies at the limits of comprehension.

‘But it is possible to stretch our frame of reference. When we touch these blocks of ice with our hands, we are not just struck by the chill; we are struck by the world itself. We take time from the glacier by touching it. In a sense, “Your waste of time” is a “waste of time” because I shipped the ice across the world for it to be on view for a short period of time, after which it melts away – a nanosecond in the life of the glacier. Then there’s another way in which time is wasted: we take away time from the glacier by touching it. Suddenly I make the glacier understood to me, its temporality. It is linked to the time the water took to become ice, a glacier. By touching it, I embody my knowledge by establishing physical contact. And suddenly we understand that we do actually have the capacity to understand the abstract with our senses. Touching time is touching abstraction.’

– Olafur Eliasson on his artwork ‘Your waste of time’

Stardust particle, 2014 - Photo: Jens Ziehe

‘Stardust particle’, 2014 (photo: Jens Ziehe) – now on view as part of Eliasson’s solo exhibition ‘In real life’, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

Your uncertain shadow (colour), 2010 - Studio Olafur Eliasson – 2019 - Photo: María del Pilar García Ayensa / Studio Olafur Eliasson

‘Your uncertain shadow (colour)’, 2010. Courtesy of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Now on view as part of Eliasson’s solo exhibition ‘In real life’, at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

‘How do emotions work to secure collectives through the way in which they read the bodies of others? How do emotions work to align some subjects with some others and against other others? … emotions play a crucial role in the “surfacing” of individual and collective bodies. Such an argument challenges any assumption that emotions are a private matter, that they simply belong to individuals and that they come from within and then move outwards towards others. It suggests that emotions are not simply “within” or “without”, but that they define the contours of the multiple worlds that are inhabited by different subjects.’ – Sara Ahmed, ‘Collective Feelings. Or, The Impressions Left by Others’, 2004

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