Critics’ Picks

Olafur Eliasson, Riverbed, 2014, water, blue basalt, wood, steel, foil, hose, pumps, cooling unit, dimensions variable.

Olafur Eliasson, Riverbed, 2014, water, blue basalt, wood, steel, foil, hose, pumps, cooling unit, dimensions variable.

Copenhagen

Olafur Eliasson

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art
Gl. Strandvej 13
August 20, 2014–January 4, 2015

Those of us who encountered Olafur Eliasson’s The Weather Project at the Tate Modern in 2003, where the vast turbine hall was infused with a radiant light, could be forgiven for at first being skeptical about experiencing a similarly transformative environment with Riverbed, 2014. As the central work of this exhibition, the installation is surprisingly overpowering. Occupying a series of four galleries at least half-filled with 180 tons of gray Icelandic stone, Riverbed produces a myriad of pleasantly disorienting sensations in fluid succession. The rooms are humid, musty, and bathed in a powdery-white light, reminiscent of an overcast Icelandic sky. Various hills and piles of stones create an uneven terrain that unfold around a flowing stream one must jump across in order to traverse the galleries. The rocky surface crunches, shifts, and falls beneath unsure footsteps, while the impulse to reach for that perfect Instagram shot must be curtailed if one does not want to slip or end up wet.

At Louisiana, the expansive riverbed galleries are complimented by Eliasson’s Model Room, 2003, a space displaying hundreds of the geometric models the artist uses to create his installations, as well as three of his visceral short films: Movement microscope, 2011; Your embodied garden, 2013; and Innen Stadt Aussen (Inner City Out), 2010. Taken as a whole, rather than an intervention into the space of the museum, the show is a dramatic elaboration of this institution. Indeed, the dynamic vistas and spatial sensations created within the galleries are matched only by the famous sea cliff views of Louisiana, and the exhibition as a whole reflects on the relationship between art and nature that this museum mobilizes so memorably.