Fondation Beyeler in Riehen near Basel is the setting of Olafur Eliasson’s latest art installation, Life. The immersive installation activates all our senses. The long, dark wooden walkways, which blur the distinction between indoors and out, guide the visitors to the exhibition through a wealth of sounds, smells and visual impressions. The walkways are surrounded by a fluorescent green pond, teeming with plants and animal life. Accompanied by the sound of buzzing insects and distant traffic, the visitor develops a panoramic awareness of the life residing in the installation.
Eliasson’s installations explore and challenge our sensory apparatus with the goal of creating awareness of humankind’s bodily presence in a room and in the world at large. Nature is typically a central theme in his art, the hope of co-existence between human beings and other organisms, between civilization and nature driving his work: ‘I hope that Life encourages visitors to experience themselves within an expanded – open, uncertain – landscape, as composite beings, caught up in larger, unruly ecologies ,’ says Olafur Eliasson.
The installation at Fondation Beyeler achieves harmony between art, architecture and nature. The building and its glazed facades, designed by Renzo Piano, converse with the surrounding Berower Park. Light animates the architecture and its artistic content and transcends the building’s physical boundaries.
Life opens up to create new physical, social and conceptual spaces. With the doors and windows removed from the building, the installation connects with the surroundings, and the museum is open day and night, allowing visitors to experience the variations in colour and light. The design lets the visitors experience the installation from both outside and inside and in motion as they follow the wooden walkways. The new spaces make room for a wide range of sensory impressions, and Eliasson’s artistic visions thus go perfectly hand in hand with the aesthetic of Fondation Beyeler.
The spider’s network
Life is open 24/7. The New Carlsberg Foundation has supported the digital platform that makes the installation accessible across time and place via integrated cameras in the exhibition. The cameras imitate a spider’s perspective, among other vantage points, and blend seamlessly with the expression of the installation.
About Olafur Eliasson
The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) trained at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen. His artistic practice extends across multiple art forms, including photography, video, sculpture, painting and installation, and he has created numerous decorative projects in the public realm. Eliasson has held many solo exhibitions in leading museums, including Tate Modern and MoMA. He has also taken part in exhibitions at Fondation Beyeler, including Claude Monet … up to Digital Impressionism (2002), and his work is represented in the museum's permanent collection.