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gooood Interview NO.10 introduces artist Olafur Eliasson. More: Olafur Eliasson on gooood.
世界知名的丹麦-冰岛艺术家奥拉维尔·埃利亚松（Olafur Eliasson） 的中国首次个展:“无相万象”（Nothingness is not nothing at all）已于2016年3月20日在中国上海龙美术馆（西岸馆）向公众开放。本次展览集中呈现奥拉维尔·埃利亚松从1990年代至今艺术生涯各个阶段的作品，包括装置、雕塑、绘画、手稿和影像等。艺术家还为本次展览空间特别创作了几件新作，其中包括大型的场域特定装置作品——《开放的金字塔》（The open pyramid）（2016）。gooood亲临现场馆展并有幸采访了作品充满想象力与创造力的艺术家奥拉维尔·埃利亚松（Olafur Eliasson） 。
The first solo exhibition “Olafur Eliasson: Nothingness is not nothing at all” of the world-renowned Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson was officially inaugurated at Long Museum （West Bund) in March 20th, 2016. Along with the artworks created in the past two decades by Olafur Eliasson, including installations, sculptures, paintings and photographs, etc., the exhibition also presents some large-scale installations such as “The Open Pyramid” that created specifically for Long Museum. gooood had the privilege of being invited to visit the exhibition and interviewed the imaginative and creative artist, Olafur Eliasson.
▼展览现场 Installation View photo by Anders Sune Berg
▼开放的金字塔（The open pyramid）（2016） photo by Anders Sune Berg
▼静止的河流（Still river）（2016） photo by Anders Sune Berg
4 您希望通过《开放的金字塔》（The open pyramid）（2016）探讨些什么？
▼开放的金字塔（The open pyramid）（2016） photo by Anders Sune Berg
6 您在之前的作品“your waste of time”中曾使用过冰，上次您讨论的是冰川和人在时间尺度上的差异性与共同性。我们注意到这次作品“静止的河流”中也有使用到冰，请问这次您想探讨的是什么呢？
7 我们网站有一个在海外专辑，专门采访位于世界各地的中国建筑师和设计师， 有不少受访者表示您是他们最喜爱的艺术家并深受您作品的启发。我发现他们不约而同的提到了“感官”或“感性”这样的词语。你如何看待自己作品中的“感性”和“体验性”？
在我的艺术实践中，我非常幸运地和各行各业的人一起合作过，其中有很大一部分是建筑师，比如我自己的工作室里就有超过20名的建筑师。我和我的合作伙伴，也是我工作室里的导师Sebastian Behmann保持了长期的紧密合作。我们在某个时刻萌生了另外创立建筑工作室的想法，该工作室将从属于德国建筑联盟，这意味着我们能真正设计出可以实践和落成的项目。“SOS”就是在这种情况下诞生的。我针对艺术性的问题做出反馈，而Sebastian则从建筑师的角度出发去作出回应。 “SOS”的全称是Studio Other Spaces，它的另外一层含义是“拯救我们的灵魂”。
▼色彩实验 Colour experiment 2015
▼(left左)天空凝视环 Sky gaze circle 2016 (right右) 你的多元视野 Your plural view 2011
▼气象学之圆 Meteorological circles 2016
▼你的消失花园 Your disappearing garden
▼暗箱 Camera obscura 1999
▼ 植物观赏 Seeing plants 2003
1 How many times have you been to China? When was your first trip? Can you share with us anything you find interesting that differ Shanghai, or lets say, chinese cities from other international cities?
I have been coming to China for some years now. I must have been here ten times or so. I also have had smaller exhibitions different places in China, for instance at Mirrored Gardens, outside Guangzhou, only last year – a space for research in an agricultural setting. The first time I came I think I went to the great wall, I went to see some temples and so on. I was very curious about the fact that culture and art are, of course, deeply rooted in Chinese history and identity. And I am interested in how art and culture are a part of Chinese contemporary identity, too. It is clear that there is a strong tradition in China for integrating culture and art. But in today‘s world I think it is a little more challenging to see culture as part of the contemporary Chinese DNA. Today there are a lot of great young Chinese people engaged with culture. There are amazing artists, filmmakers, theatre people, poets, and so on and so forth. And it is important to see these people as co-producers of society, we should not marginalize culture to be on the periphery of society, right? It is very important that civic society has access to culture, that culture becomes a part of civic life. I think there is a tendency, however, to say, well, you know, I go to work and then, if I have time and money, I can also enjoy culture. But maybe work and culture should be more connected; maybe culture should become a part of our lives like it was in China many years ago. So when I came first to China I was very interested in the fact that culture was everywhere, it was the whole identity. That’s why I was curious about the fact that today a great city like Shanghai actually has a lot of culture institutions that support the idea that culture really is something that accessible for everyone, accessible and a part of daily life.
2 As an experienced artist, many of your best-known works are site-specific installations, so why did you choose to do the exhibition here at Long Museum(West Bund) ?
I chose to show my work here at the Long Museum （West Bund） because the museum was kind enough to invite me to have an exhibition here. That’s how it works. You don’t actually choose the museum as an artist – the museum chooses you.
I am excited to show here at the Long Museum because I think it is a very beautiful building. It sits here on the Shanghai river, which is very interesting, too. It is a part of a city development, which is so obviously trying to find out what the future of the city is going to be. The river has a lot of new buildings, and I am curious about the fact that the city is trying to create its new identity. What will Shanghai be like in ten or twenty, thirty years? I like the Long Museum because it was made by young architects, the Atelier Deshaus, this is maybe their first big building. At first one might think that the concrete walls are a bit rough but actually I think it is very beautiful that you see what you get, so to speak. In a lot of architecture and in a lot of design, there is often a surface, which is very shinny, maybe marble or gold, and then there is something cheap inside, some metal structure, right？But here, you see what you get. What is inside is what is outside. It is the same. So it is very honest, it is not trying to pretend to be something else than it is. And that is a very good setting for my works. To see this kind of honesty and transparency in architecture is a great platform for me to show my artworks.
▼展览现场 Installation View photo by Anders Sune Berg
3 How does the architecture influence your installations?
The architecture influenced the show significantly. I made some site-specific works, such as The open pyramid and Still river. I tried to organize the works in a particular sequence so they dialogue with the architecture. When you come to a show like this, it is almost like reading chapters in a book. You go from one space to the next space, and of course you look at one artwork at a time, but you still remember what you just saw and you have expectations of what you are about to see. And in that way the show is like a theatre play with different chapters or like a book. It is a journey. And the particular architecture of the Long Museum (West Bund) supports this idea of a sequence or of a journey, of a story. And I actually think it is the viewer, it is you who come to see the show, who is the writer of the story. So the architecture and my works create the possibility for you to make an experience when you come.
4 What do you want to discuss with the public on your new work “The open pyramid”?
That’s an interesting question and maybe one that visitors might answer themselves. Obviously I have many ideas, too: I am interested in the traditional shape of the pyramid, how it normally represents a hierarchy of power. The people on the top and the people at the bottom of the pyramid. But my work I have called The open pyramid, right? It is an accessible pyramid. You can go into, you can go out. I like the idea of deconstructing the shape of the pyramid on the inside. Because if you go in, you also see that it is a cube. Or you imagine it is a cube. It is almost as if it is turned around or inside out. The pyramid is about your expectations and your experience. Now I don’t want to suggest or prescribe what experience you should have. Because then I would be putting myself in power, telling you how to behave. As a principle I am against that. I am against pyramids, I am against hierarchies! Instead I tell you to become the pyramid, right? I ask you to go in, experience it, and make you own story.
▼开放的金字塔（The open pyramid）（2016）photo by gooood
▼开放的金字塔（The open pyramid）（2016） photo by Long Museum
5 You use a lot of reflections in your projects, why are you so fascinated by them?
I work a lot with mirrors and transparency and ephemeral materials, materials that are not really solid – things that disappear just like the ice from Still river behind me here. In two days’ time these ice blocks will all be gone and we will put some new ones in their place. The water we used to make these blocks comes from the Shanghai river. Mirrors are fascinating, because what you see is not the mirror, but what it reflects. It is a very strange material because it does not insist on its own presence. The mirror is there but it is also not there.
6 You used ice as an installation in your work “Your waste of time” to discuss the difference and commonness regarding the scale (length) of time for glacier and human. And in Long Museum, you use ice again. So what are you trying to express this time?
I work a lot with ice and “Your waste of time” is actually about the environmental crisis and the climate, about pollution and so on. As we can see, these ice blocks behind me here do not look exactly like what we think ice usually looks like. Normally when we think of ice, we think of something very clear and transparent, maybe even blueish or such. But as you can see, it is actually incredibly dirty. So this is what the Shanghai river looks like. And maybe we need to think more about how to prevent it from becoming so polluted. Besides being about the process, about time passing, this work is also about the environment. You know, we can make many mistakes such as thinking that we cannot change anything, right? People think that smog is sort of beyond my situation. I am interested in what can turn people into stakeholders. How do we get people to act, to actually contribute and help change the smog situation? I don’t think people are passive, I think they are very active. I have actually made a project called Little Sun (www.littlesun.com) which is about sustainable and clean energy and how to get it to people who live in parts of the world with no electricity, no access to power.
I think all my artworks allow for people to look at and to question them. When you look at a work of art, you, of course, are often busy trying to understand it. And sometimes this process of making sense of what you are looking at actually also allows you to evaluate or reconsider the way you think about your surroundings. Maybe it isn’t so easy to understand the artworks because some of them are very abstract. Just like the ice here, you might wonder, well, why? I mean you can see how it is made, it is very easy to see how, but it is not so easy to see why. And in the process of asking why, we start to ask how we make interpretations of the world around us. I think it is quite important to consider how we actually see the world.
▼小太阳 Little Sun (www.littlesun.com) photo by gooood
7 In our album “Oversea”, we interviewed Chinese architects and designers across the globe, and many of them mentioned that you are their favorite artist. They see your works inspiring and used words like “sense” or “sensibility” when describing their experiences. What is your own opinions regarding the “sensibility” or “Involvement”in your projects? （Please see reference interviews in the apendix）
I think it’s incredibly important to understand that sensitivity is something we can cultivate, it is not something you have or don’t have. Sensibility is very much a cultural product. It is about attention, focus, and concentration. The show here is called “Nothingness is not nothing at all” which really is about sensitivity, it is your ability to focus on none－materialistic things. Things are not necessarily always right in front of you, but if you think about them, they may suddenly emerge. With our senses we can produce reality. So I am not interested in how I consume my surroundings. I am very interested in sensitivity as a kind of productive approach to the world, I produce my reality through my sensitivity, through my perception, and I am keen to explore how one can do that in a responsible way. We sometimes think that sensitivity is about how good I am at seeing complex things, but that’s not what I mean here: sensitivity is really about how I produce the world.
8 Besides the recently built Circle Bridge in Copenhagen, you also established an architecture “Studio Other Spaces” collaborated with architects, working on museum, residential house or even parks. What was the original motivation for you to extend your working field?
I have, throughout my artistic practice, had the luck of working with many different types of people, among others, a great number of architects. And I have more than 20 architects in my studio. I have been working closely with Sebastian Behmann, my long-time collaborator and one of the directors of my studio. We at open point started discussing doing a separate studio together, one which belongs to the architecture association in Germany, which means that we can actually do buildings and so on. Out of this discussions “SOS”, grew. I contribute with artistic questions whereas Sebastian brings in the perspective of the architect. SOS stands for Studio Other Spaces. But it could also be save our souls!
▼东庄日照图 Dong Zhuang sunpath, 2012 photo by Anders Sune Berg
▼环形彩虹 Round rainbow, 2005 photo by Anders Sune Berg
▼幸福 Happiness, 2011 photo by Anders Sune Berg
▼美 Beauty, 1993 photo by Anders Sune Berg
▼移动的上海 Shanghai mobile, 2016 photo by Anders Sune Berg
▼(left左) 尘埃粒子 Dust particle 2014 (right右) 你的全视界 All your views 2015
▼来自未来的桥 Bridge from the future 2014
▼颜色实验系列展览现场 Installation Vie of Colour experiment
此外gooood也参加了无相万象的新闻发布会。在新闻发布会上奥拉维尔·埃利亚松（Olafur Eliasson） 提到“无相万象”是指人们常能发现肉眼所见事物的重要性，但他也希望提醒人们肉眼看不到的东西其实也是非常重要的。比如他的一个作品（可以在我们拍摄的视频中看到）在灯亮起时是彩色，灯灭时则是单色：这个作品是希望人们了解颜色这一体验往往来自于个体的主观解读。人们以为颜色是客观的事物，但其实我们都是颜色的生产者。作品将人从被动消费者转化为主动生产者，促使人们去思考。此外艺术家也提到“小太阳”项目，这是一个人类共享太阳，积极利用能源，将科技变成艺术，造福万民的作品。小太阳是一盏带有太阳能发电池的灯具，为缺乏电力地区的人们带来了福音。人们把这个小太阳握在手里仿佛自己也有了能量，此外该作品也促使人们思考自己如何为地球出一份力。艺术是广阔的，具有包容性与无限性的。
开放时间：周日至周四 10:00~19:00；周五至周六 10:00~21:00；每周一闭馆
▼奥拉维尔·埃利亚松（Olafur Eliasson） photo by gooood
In the press conference of the exhibition, Olafur emphasized the importance of invisible things, which is also the theme of the show “nothingness is not nothing at all”. All his works are trying to prompt the audiences to rethink the relation between themselves and their surroundings, and to remind them their roles as active producers. In one of his works we presents in our video, the color in the room changes from multi-color to monochrome as the light turns off. The experience of color is in fact the interpretation of color. We human beings are the producer of the color instead of the consumer. Olafur also mentioned his smallest project of the show the “Little Sun”; a project transforms science into art while benefiting all utilizing the sun we shared. As a solar power plant, it brings light to the people who live in parts of the world without energy or power. People power themselves while powering the “Little Sun”. It encourages us to contribute to the world in our way. It also points out that the nature of art is diverse, inclusive and unlimited.
Olafur Eliasson: Nothingness is not nothing at all
Address: Long Museum（West Bund）No.3398 Longteng Avenue, Xuhui District, Shanghai
opening hours: 10:00 – 19:00 Sunday to Thursday; 10:00 – 21:00 Friday to Saturday; closed at Monday.
▼ 奥拉维尔·埃利亚松（Olafur Eliasson）
More About Nothingness is not nothing at all
Ms. Wang Wei, co-founder and chief curator of Long Museum, says:
Olafur Eliasson is one of the most representative and influential artists working today, and I am highly impressed by the diversity of themes and great artistic tensions in his work. When Long Museum West Bund was still under construction, Eliasson spent a long time visiting the site, and this enthusiastic visit became the seed for the exhibition at Long Museum. I see Eliasson as an artist with the brain of a scientist. His works reflect on nature and also demonstrate a lively, interested engagement in daily experience; he possesses an astonishing ability to activate space. I also see Eliasson’s work as creating not merely single objects but rather overall experiences. His works invite visitors to enter his artistic world, and inspire their inner senses. I hope that bringing Eliasson’s artworks to the Long Museum will give a fresh life to the space, and allow the Chinese public to have an opportunity to see these world-renowned artworks locally, in Shanghai.
Olafur Eliasson says:
I wanted to amplify the feeling of the cavernous museum galleries by installing artworks that invite visitors to look inwards, to question how their senses work, and dream up utopias for everyday life. Reality is what we make it to be – it is what we see, sense, think, feel, and do. It is also what things, artworks, spaces, and cities do to us. Art challenges our perspective on the world, turns it upside down, or suggests alternative views – I hope visitors to the exhibition will be inspired to undertake such enquiries. I see the questioning of what is as an opportunity. It makes that which we take for granted negotiable, open to change.
Through a diverse array of artworks, many of which suggest tools for experimental research, the exhibition invites visitors into a space of exploration that encourages their active engagement. The artworks were selected and arranged with particular attention to how they interact with the vaulted, austere concrete museum building designed by Atelier Deshaus. Inspired by the architecture’s combination of rectangular rooms and curved ceilings, Eliasson chose artworks for the exhibition that use basic geometrical principles such as circles, spheres, cubes, or pyramids. Pavilion-like structures create discrete stations within the building, and the capacious interior is divided into individual spaces through precisely curated constellations of artworks.
Many of the works include elemental materials such as stone, ice, water, or light. Series of photographs and colour paintings reflect Eliasson’s approach to studying the phenomenon of colour perception and investigating the world. Optical devices, lenses, mirrors, and glass spheres emphasise the dynamism and subjectivity of visual perception, providing opportunities for visitors to consider their own participation in the construction of what they see. The works direct the viewers’ attention towards the space they inhabit as well as to the act of perceiving it, highlighting their active role in the discovery and co-creation of their surroundings and the world.