Art historian Joke de Wolf focuses on a work of art that fits current events. This week: a heat wave.
In the countries of southern Europe, the earth has been scorching and scorching under high temperatures for a few weeks now, and now it is the turn of the Netherlands. Practical advice is pouring in, but many people are also concerned about the bigger picture – the climate. It is hard to deny that the temperature on Earth is rising and that humanity must do something to protect itself and especially the Earth. It is no longer enough to close the blinds against the sun’s rays.
In 2003, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson created an artwork consisting, in short, of a huge sun, and called it “The Weather Project”. He made a yellow screen in the form of a semicircle, behind which he placed bright street lamps. The semicircle is hung at the top of the Tate Modern in London, in an area of 150 meters and a height of 35 meters. Eliasson hung mirrors from the ceiling. And the artist released a little water vapor, so it seemed to be missing in the museum.
Eliasson hoped people would look up and marvel at the double room size. But a lot happened. Visitors came there to perform yoga exercises. The BBC broadcast the weather forecast from the museum for a week, always with the conclusion that the sun was still shining at the Tate. And when US President Bush visited London, people on the ground formed the text “Bush come home.”
British art critics praised it, calling it a “psychedelic event”, as if visitors walked into a painting by British landscape painter Turner and were dancing in a golden setting.
Eliasson from Iceland. The artist said in an interview: When you stand still in the Icelandic landscape, you don’t see a scale, you don’t know if something is too far or too close. Once you start moving, this changes: the small mountains in the foreground move quickly, and the large mountains far away stay in the same place.
In his work, Eliasson wants to show that humans can influence their environment. “My idea was to make the space tangible,” he said. The museum hall was so large that it was very difficult to accommodate with your body. With a mirror on the ceiling, people saw themselves.
As an artist, Eliasson sets big goals: he wants to improve the world and convince people that they can do it too. Often this improvement in the world has to do with the climate. Later, for example, he also invented the “Little sun”, a solar-powered LED lamp. The purchase also provides the lights in places in the world without reliable electricity, so that people can read, cook and gather safely.
In The Weather Project, the artist essentially made visitors think: “What does it matter if I take a step here? Does it matter that I am in the world? And does it matter what I do in it?” Despite the simplicity of the installation in Tate, the meaning was and remains of great interest. Even today.
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