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Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


10 Dec 2009 to 11 Apr 2010

Curator: Madeleine Grynsztejn (Pritzker Director, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago)

MCA Curatorial liaison: Rachel Kent

about the exhibition

Olafur Eliasson is among the most influential and widely acclaimed artists of his generation. From light-filled environments to walk-in kaleidoscopes, his uniquely participatory works offer alluring spaces that harness optical cognition and meteorological elements, examine the intersection of nature and science and explore the boundary between the organic and the artificial. Having been raised partly in Iceland, Eliasson’s practice is informed by that country’s primordial landscape and spectacular weather. He recontextualises elements such as light, water, ice, fog, arctic moss and lava rock to create altogether new circumstances that shift the viewer’s consciousness and sense of place. By extension, his work prompts an intensive engagement with the world outside and a fresh consideration of everyday life.

Curated by Madeleine Grynsztejn in close collaboration with the artist and organised by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Take your time: Olafur Eliasson made its debut in San Francisco in 2007. It’s presentation at the MCA was the first full-scale survey of projects by this contemporary Danish/Icelandic artist to appear in Australia, with works drawn from major public and private collections worldwide. This exhibition spanned Eliasson’s diverse range of artistic production from 1993 to the present, including installations, large-scale immersive environments, freestanding sculpture and photography.

Take your time: Olafur Eliasson was planned specifically for the MCA’s exhibition space, retaining the sense of immersion and boundlessness of the artist’s most monumental pieces while presenting a chronological survey that occupied over 1,200 square metres. One of the key works included in the exhibition was The cubic structural evolution project (2004), a vast, white Lego metropolis which visitors, young and old, were invited and encouraged to pull apart and remake. The work was constantly changing as it was built up, added to, pulled down and rebuilt every day during the course of the exhibition.

Other major works in the exhibition included Room for one colour (1997), a glowing yellow room illuminated by mono-frequency bulbs that give a retinal after effect, producing the sensation of purple as the viewer looked out into the galleries beyond and Beauty (1993), a thin veil of mist illuminated obliquely by spotlights which produce a soft, hazy rainbow effect.

Take Your Time: Olafur Eliasson broke previous attendance records for a paid exhibition at the MCA. Visitors to the MCA still occasionally enquire after the “lego room”.

The exhibition was accompanied by an extensive catalogue published by SFMOMA.

Take your time: Olafur Eliasson was organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Lead support was provided by Helen and Charles Schwab and the Mimi and Peter Haas Fund. Generous support was provided by the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, and SFMOMA’s Collectors Forum. Additional support was provided by Patricia and William Wilson III, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Presented in association with Sydney Festival 2010.

Exhibition Guide - Take your time: Olafur Eliasson


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