OLAFUR ELIASSON “SOMETIMES THE RIVER IS THE BRIDGE”

HAPPENINGText: Sophia Sloan

“Sometimes the river is the bridge” (2020), has the audience entering into a circular space enclosed by a ceiling-high, black curtain. Entering this cave-like space, one is immediately drawn to the multiple beams of light that is projected in a small shallow pool. This light is then reflected upwards on to a screen that spans the circular space. A small motor in the pool creates endless movements and variations, which in return affect the texture of the reflections. This all results in an illuminated pool reflecting small orbs of water encircling the audience within a dark enclosed space. The interplay of water, light and movement would occasionally include the shadow of bobbing heads as an audience member would approach the shallow pool, obstructing the beams of light. The more bold among us would attempt to agitate the projected reflections either by blowing or fanning the pool’s surface themselves. Every so often, the reflections wisp away like wind carrying sand and transform back to its original element.


Olafur Eliasson, Sometimes the river is the bridge, 2020. Installation view: Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2020. Photo: Kazuo Fukunaga. Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles © 2020 Olafur Eliasson

As a whole, the exhibit space is spacious and never feels too crowded despite the streams of people coming in. Occasionally, there are small arrows to help guide you around the exhibit, but these are easy to miss. The audience is therefore able to more freely wander and explore the different environments laid out in each room. At times, these transitions from room to room can be incredibly dramatic due to the various atmospheres influenced by the works themselves. The exhibit itself was not text heavy and many of the installations were not labelled. There are a few quotes from the artist that dotted the exhibit, but as whole, this experience gave the audience the opportunity to interact and explore the piece fully before referencing the information in their brochures.


Olafur Eliasson, Sustainability research lab. Installation view: Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2020. Photo: Kazuo Fukunaga. Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles © 2020 Olafur Eliasson

Thoughtfully crafted, this solo exhibit allows the audience to explore our senses to visit new perspectives through the many natural phenomena in Eliasson’s work. From the shipping of the artworks to the display, they all work in harmony to emphasize the artist’s philosophy.

Olafur Eliasson: Sometimes the river is the bridge
Date: June 9th – September 27th, 2020
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
Closed on Mondays (except August 10th, September 21st), August 11th, September 23rd
Place: Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Address: 4-1-1 Miyoshi, Koto-ku, Tokyo
Admission: Adults 1,400 yen, College Students, Over 65 1,000 yen, High School & Junior High School Students 500 yen
Tel: 03-5777-8600
https://www.mot-art-museum.jp

Text: Sophia Sloan

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