olafur eliasson

Alaina Says:
February 2, 2008 at 7:35 pm e
I want to know why you don’t like Olafur Eliasson.
I really liked his yellow room at the SFMOMA show.

ok, so it’s only my second page, or post or whatever it is, and i think i’m cheating already… i took alaina’s comment and instead of just writing a comment back, i had to start off on a tangent…

first, i actually really liked two of the pieces at the sfmoma show.

and when i said i don’t like olafur eliasson – i didn’t mean him personally – i’ve never met him (though i will admit now that when i personally don’t like an artist, it’s often difficult for me to like their art. and looking at an artist’s work, i often jump to some conclusions about their personality – more on that – if anyone wants to go there – on some future post).

my issue with o.e.’s work and the show at sfmoma is that people have latched on to the reputation of his work, and that is really what the show is about…

the work is supposed to be phenomenological. in fact, i’d say it’s more sensational… in my opinion the former is universal and fundamental. the latter is, (boy, now it’s getting ugly) candy.

what’s good phenomenological work? the best work by fred sandback, mark rothko or barnett newman.     or walter de maria’s “lightening field”  (http://www.lightningfield.org) —  the perfect foil to the eliasson show…     first, the lightening field isn’t about lightning (sorry, but you just have to take my word for that, unless you visit it yourself).    there is a sensuous aspect to the lightening field.   because you’re required to stay 24 hours if you visit, you watch the stainless steel rods change color with the light – from gray to blue to silver to blush to rosy pink and on and on, all against the bleak landscape.   the next level  to the piece  is fwhen you cross the line made by the outer-most poles, you immediately recognize that you are “inside”.   then and only then do you understand that up until that moment, you were “outside.”   what the piece does is make you feel the space you occupy in a way you have never understood it before.    more impressive to me is that as you move within the grid your sense of personal importance is reduced to something like the black fly clinging to your leg.

o.e.’s work is too tricky. smoke and mirrors. like a fun house.   i’d enter a piece, quickly flash on “oh, this is what i’m supposed to experience,” then start looking around to figure out how the piece was accomplished. then, i’d start spinning on what kind of resources it took to do it and how bloody much it must have cost sfmoma to put on this show…

if you don’t think along those lines, the show is probably really fun. carnivalesque undermines the level of craft and thought – but this show belongs at the exploratorium.

a piece like ned kahn’s at the airport is far more interesting to me… ned makes the invisible visible.   that piece is a catalyst for connecting you to your environment.

back to o.e.  —   in the yellow room, you walk in and everything/one in it seems  black and white. not the velvety black and white of cinema, but just icky black and white. louis (he liked the piece too) described it as being like moonlight, except that instead of there not being enough light to register color, in this case the light is bright and unforgiving and yet there’s still no color. it’s a sensation, but not much else. it’s a novelty – like a 3-d movie.

i do like the ironic take on museum gift shops that is the room of maquettes…

i also like the fan.   it feels dangerous.   sometimes art should be threatening…