Optical Illusions: Olafur Eliasson

04Jun08

I had the pleasure of slowly contemplating the comprehensive survey of Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson’s work, Take Your Time, now showing simultaneously at MoMa and P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Space.  I must admit I felt an eery stomach curdling anxiety walking through Room For One Colour, 1997, where everything appears monochrome through a yellowish haze.  It is a deliciously extreme sensory overload, causing an out of body experience that sets you up for the rest of the optical tricks that lie ahead.  Once your eyes adjust and you accept the highly manipulated yet organic visual distortions, it is easier to relax and enjoy them.  

Curator Roxana Marcoci explains how Eliasson’s work functions in the exhibition’s introduction, “By making visible the mechanics of his works and laying bare the artifice of the illusion, Eliasson points to the elliptical relationship between reality, perception and representation.”  Hence my appropriately out of body experience as my eyes adjusted to a new reality.  Mr. Eliasson is certainly onto something and I agree with Holland Cotter’s glowing review of his work in the The New York Times:  this survey is a refreshing dose of all the right things that seem to be painfully missing from today’s contemporary art scene.

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