Olafur Eliasson: In real life
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain
February 14 through Autumn, 2020
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents Olafur Eliasson: In real life, a survey of the career of Olafur Eliasson (1967), one of today’s most prominent artists. Through around 30 works created between 1990 and 2020 – including sculptures, photographs, paintings, and installations – the exhibition challenges the way we navigate and perceive our environment, leading us to reflect on the urgent issues of today.
Eliasson’s art derives from an interest in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. Central to his artistic practice are his concern with nature, inspired by time spent in Iceland; his research into geometry; and his ongoing investigations into how we perceive, feel about, and shape the world around us. His practice extends beyond making artworks and exhibitions to include public interventions and architectural projects.
Eliasson’s Berlin-based studio brings together a diverse team of skilled craftspeople, architects, researchers, chefs, art historians, and specialized technicians. It is a place not only for artistic creation but also for encounters and dialogues with cultural practitioners, policymakers, and scientists. Convinced that art can have a strong impact on the world outside the museum, Eliasson has created solar lamps for offgrid communities, conceived artistic workshops for asylum seekers and refugees, created art installations to raise awareness of the climate emergency, and in September 2019, he was named Goodwill Ambassador for the UNDP. “Art,” Eliasson says, “is not the object but what the object does to the world.”
Eliasson has taken the role of the artist beyond being a presence in galleries and museums to give it a multidisciplinary perspective in conjunction with professionals in such disparate fields as science, architecture, business, politics, dance and cooking. His work stands out for putting viewers at the core, allowing them to delve into many of the challenges facing our society, and offering them different experiences which entail, in Eliasson’s words “taking part in the world.”
Indeed, many of the works in this exhibition are related to the environment and sustainability, drawing from nature and its elements to make them possible. The artist exposes viewers’ senses to materials like wood, water and moss so that they can feel the nature that humanity is destroying.
The show follows the one held at London’s Tate Modern in 2019 . Curators: Mark Godfrey, Senior Curator, International Art, Tate Modern; and Lucía Agirre, Curator, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Sponsor: Iberdrola.
Published to accompany the exhibition, the catalogue features an essay by curator Mark Godfrey, as well as eighteen conversations between the artist and a remarkably varied range of people working both inside and outside the arts-from the fields of economics, anthropology, sustainability, migration, political science and biology to architecture and urbanism, education, dance, music and food-providing an insight into the way Eliasson and his studio engage with the world today.