The Danish-Icelandic artist had been a prominent figure since 2003, presenting his first major project at Tate Modern - “The Weather Project”. Many of his earlier works shown on this latest return to the Tate are installations shown in the Nineties alongside likeminded, mainly European artists, using simple materials to explore the natural and the artificial, to emphasise optical and bodily experience and provoke social interaction. But the sun propelled him into the stratosphere.
“Your Blind Passenger” (2010) is the centrepiece of a new retrospective of Olafur Eliasson’s work at Tate Modern in London. As the staff opens a white door and lets a few people into a narrow passageway thick with fog. It smells it’s sweet but unpleasantly artificial. No one can see more than a metre or so ahead, and a strange kind of intimacy ensues. People start waving their hands, in search search for someone close in front to lead the way - I couldn’t help but wonder, is that what heaven feels like.
A similar trick is at work in “Beauty” (1993), where a punctured hose sprays out a fine mist of water. The room is dark and the drizzle lit by a spotlight: depending on where a visitor stands, a rainbow dances and disappears - it was silky, mesmerizing and as the title suggested, a beauty.
It was all in all a remarkable and important exhibition comment on the climate emergency, solar power, space, light and time all warped and turned inside-out, but still Olafur still manage to present all that in a captivating, interactive yet elegant manner.
“Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life” is showing at Tate Modern until January 5th