Sometimes it takes so little to completely change the perception of a building and create entirely new references to the surrounding landscape. An unconventional work of art in and around the Museum Beyeler makes this clear.
Sam Keller, director of the Fondation Beyeler, says: “This artwork is a collective experiment. It challenges conventions of art, nature, institution and life and attempts to dissolve their boundaries. The natural elements of water, earth, air and light are part of it, as are space and time. Climate and weather influence the development and perception of the exhibition.”
The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has raised the natural pond in front of the Museum Beyeler in Riehen near Basel, flooded the adjacent museum and intensively coloured the water green. He has planted floating fern, dwarf water lily, mussel flower, redroot and water nut, which all thrive in the shallow water, in the pond thus created and connects the inside with the outside of the building. This evokes the impression that nature has taken over the Fondation Beyeler.
Eliasson says of his work: “When we realise that our lives are inextricably interwoven with our surroundings, and with structures and systems that extend far beyond our local context, I think we realise that we are all vulnerable and not in control of everything. We act and interact in situations characterised by uncertainty and uncertain outcomes. … «Life», my artwork, and the Fondation Beyeler are interwoven with the surrounding park, the urban landscape, indeed the whole planet, and they are brought to life by everything and everyone who encounters here.”
Visitors wander through the exhibition on dark wood walkways, accompanied by the ambient sounds of insects, traffic and other people, and surrounded by the smells of plants and water. It is not for nothing that his project is called “Life”. Eliasson removed the windows and opened the museum to the environment so that the smells and sounds can actually penetrate inside.
The artist goes on to say of his latest work, “With Life, I am actively working to create a space of coexistence between all who are part of the exhibition and those who are addressed by it – the art institution, my artwork, the visitors, other beings who participate in it, the trees and other plants in the park, the urban landscape that surrounds the museum and beyond. By exploring together the world we share, I hope we can make it livable for all species.”
The exhibition “Life” by Olafur Eliasson runs until 11 July 2021 and is accessible at any time of the day or night. Tickets are available between 9 am and 9 pm.
To avoid waiting times, the Museum Beyeler recommends purchasing tickets online in advance.
About Olafur Eliasson
The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) works with sculpture, painting, photography, film, installation and digital media. In his artistic practice, he deals with questions of perception, movement, bodily experience and the relationship between self-perception and a sense of community. He does not limit himself to museums and galleries, but involves the public through architectural projects, interventions in public spaces, art education, policy-making and climate actions.
Eliasson is internationally known for installations that challenge the way we perceive and shape our environment. For Green river, a project realised in various cities between 1998 and 2001, Eliasson coloured six rivers a luminous green using the water-soluble dye uranine. For The mediated motion, 2001, at Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, he filled a sequence of rooms with natural materials such as water, mist, earth, wood, mushrooms and duckweed.