Contact, Olafur Eliasson‘s (b. 1967, Copenhagen) exhibition explores “the relations between self, space, and universe” by creating a cosmos within the venue.
On the roof, Eliasson has installed an apparatus that tracks the sun and, at certain hours of the day, directs light rays onto a multifaceted, geometric sculpture suspended within the building.
The exhibition interacts with the newly unveiled site-specific commission Inside the horizon. Including a unique sound composition designed by Samuli Kosminen andOlafur Eliasson, this commission is a vibrant interplay of daylight, yellow light, shadows, and reflections that offers constantly changing perspectives of the Fondation’s architecture, the surroundings, and other visitors.
The challenge the artist has accepted in being the first contemporary artist to exhibit at the Fondation Louis Vuitton is dual: there is, on the one hand, the architecture and, on the other, the established exhibition format, whose limits he explodes to “bring in the universe” by way of a total work of art.
Olafur Eliasson often bases his work on cutting-edge advances in scientific thought, placing renewed emphasis on the situation of humanity in the world. Tapping into the visitors’ capacity for empathy, the artist strives to activate their participation, implicating them in a complex, multi-sensorial experience. The constant oscillation between shadow/light, presence/absence, and affirmation/doubt causes us to question our visual perceptions and, in consequence, our convictions.
To this end, the route through the exhibition is derived from the geometry of the circle and founded upon the underlying principle of circularity. By bringing viewers into “contact” with a meteorite, an extraterrestrial object with a magical, even symbolic, character, the exhibition begins with a gesture intended by the artist to place visitors in a state of perceptiveness that expands the “horizons of our imagination.”
From here, the show revolves around two large-scale installations, Map for unthought thoughts and Contact (also the title of the entire exhibition), as well as transitional passages punctuated by three glass spheres—optical devices opening onto the outside, and thereby incorporating the exterior into the interior space.
In Map for unthought thoughts, viewers are at the center of the piece. Their shadow glides along a semicircle that is extended into a full circumference by a mirror. This shadow, shifting in scale,seems to orbit like an asteroid.
- Installation shots of Contact. Courtesy of Olafur Eliasson and Fondation Louis Vuitton.