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Ólafur Elíasson - Life

Life is the scenographic site-specific installation that the Danish artist of Icelandic origin Ólafur Elíasson created at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Basel, open until July 17, 2021.

The work wants to testify to Elíasson's intention to consider life by adopting a biocentric perspective, rather than according to a conventional and widespread anthropocentric approach.

“Life for humans, like all mammals, depends on inhaling and exhaling, on oxygen. Following the anthropologists Natasha Myers and Timothy Choy, I’d say that life is also about conspiring – playing on the origin of the word (‘to breathe with’) as well as the dictionary definition. We conspire with the tree, with others, and with the planet.”

Olafur Eliasson LIFE 2021 17 minImage curtesy of Ólafur Elíasson  -  Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, 2021

For the occasion, the external glass walls of the building designed by Renzo Piano, which will be open to the public 24 hours a day, were fully removed. Believing that human beings are interconnected with the ecosystem, among others, and that perception and physical experience can be tools for social change, the artist has created a continuity between the museum and the greenery that surrounds it.

Green is also the colour that characterizes Life, whose path consists of a succession of walkways that cross halls with entirely white walls containing bright green stagnant water that hosts dwarf water lilies, shellflowers and ferns and owes its bold and high impact colour to fluorescein sodium - also known as uranine or Acid Yellow 73 - a compound commonly used as a dye or indicator, and already adopted by Elíasson for his previous work Green River.

Olafur Eliasson LIFE 2021 17 minImage curtesy of Ólafur Elíasson  -  Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, 2021

To make virtual visits possible for those who cannot physically reach the Museum, the Beyeler Foundation has prepared a live stream of cameras and optical filters that "allude to non-human perspectives".

Olafur Eliasson LIFE 2021 17 minImage curtesy of Ólafur Elíasson  -  Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, 2021

Different experiences correspond to different moments of the day and night. The moments that the foundation recommends for visiting the multi-sensory and multimedia Life, accessible by appointment, are sunrise and sunset.

Olafur Eliasson LIFE 2021 17 minImage curtesy of Ólafur Elíasson  -  Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, 2021

 


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