Olafur Eliasson's Newest Exhibition Floods Fondation Beyeler with a Bright Green Pond Filled with Plants
A flood of murky water overwhelms the stark white galleries of Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland. The new exhibition, simply titled “Life,” is the work of acclaimed Danish-Iceland artist Olafur Eliasson (previously), who set the Swiss institution awash in floating ferns, dwarf water lilies, shell flowers, red root floaters, and water caltrops.
To install the sprawling project, Eliasson removed the windows on one side of the museum’s facade, which allows visitors and nearby wildlife to enter the space at any time of day or night. The open-air environment subjects the manufactured reservoir indoors to the naturally occurring elements outside the building, like the weather, daylight, humidity, and smells and sounds of nearby public gardens. At night, a combination of UV lights and a fluorescent dye called uranine radiate brilliant colors throughout the water.
A prismatic livestream—Eliasson outfitted some of the cameras with apparatuses that mimic the sensory experiences of animals and insects—captures how the immersive space changes with each moment, especially as the surface reflects shadows and passersby. These interactions between human and non-human species foreground the project, which was inspired by anthropologist Natasha Myers who’s advocated for the advent of the “planthroposcene.” An alternative to the anthropocene, Myers’ concept is “rooted in the knowledge that plants are what made this planet liveable,” a statement says, clarifying that although the gallery is overrun with water, Eliasson’s goal is to evidence the interconnectivity inherent in nature.
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Hundreds of thousands of sleek, black LEGO structure the utopic universes by Toronto-based artist Ekow Nimako. Ranging from life-sized figurative sculptures with an eccentric twist to sprawling landscapes mimicking dense metropolises, Nimako’s artworks are rooted in the visionary realm of Afrofuturism, which “explores the intersection of technology and race to visualize a powerful future for the African diaspora” through a hearty dose of hope and strength.
His ongoing series, Building Black, is an expansive collection that encompasses fantastical masks inspired by West African tradition and mythological characters that draw on folklore and proverbs. Another facet includes a broad, architectural sculpture that expands 30-square-feet. The 2019 work is titled “Kumbi Saleh 3020 CE,” a reference to the capital city of the ancient Ghana Empire that’s thought to have contained a mosque, a central square, and various circuit walls.
Running through each of these artworks is a fluid understanding of time and space that blurs the distinction between generations, locations, and histories in order to imagine a new reality. “We are all living proof of our ancestors, all their joy, love, knowledge, and pain. They live in our DNA,” the Ghanaian-Canadian artist says. “Aesthetically, I enjoy taking elements from bygone eras and creating futuristic landscapes, particularly of African utopias to imagine a liberated existence for us all.”
That blurred temporality that foregrounds his sculptures and installations parallels his own trajectory, as well. “My art practice developed when I was four years old, as I constantly told myself I want to do this (play with LEGO) forever, and sometimes it feels as though my future self communicated with my past self, astrally perhaps, to ensure this very specific destiny manifested,” he says, noting that the plastic blocks have remained a fixture in both his personal and professional life since becoming a father.
Today, Nimako works solely with black LEGO, a choice designed to distinguish his practice from the iconic brand. “My distinction was that I wanted to make artwork for which the medium was secondary,” he shares. “The form and content, the embodiment of life, always comes first with my work.”
In 2017, Nimako published a guide to LEGO animals, Beasts from Bricks, and plans to continue teaching with a tutorial for building afrofuturistic worlds that’ll launch on his site this June. He’ll be included in a group exhibition at Onsite Gallery starting in June 2022 and also has a solo show slated for October of next year at Dunlop Gallery in Regina, Saskatchewan. In the meantime, explore a larger collection of his elaborately designed universes on Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)
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Rocky debris, vintage photographs, and a wooden ship colliding with its own hull are suspended above a 100-yard gallery at MASS MoCA for “In the Light of a Shadow.” The work of Los Angeles-born artist Glenn Kaino (previously), the monumental installation generates a sprawling environment filled with thousands of floating elements that speak to the vast impact of protest and collective movements.
Lined with an aisle of light and constantly moving shadows, the hovering artworks fuse memories of past injustices and a brighter, hopeful path forward in an immersive experience. Specifically, Kaino uses “In the Light of a Shadow” as a response to the horrific events of Bloody Sunday in both Selma, Alabama, and Derry, Northern Ireland. He models the wrecked ship after the Shadow V, a modest boat Lord Mountbatten often used for fishing, that the Irish Republican Army bombed in 1979 to assassinate the member of the royal family.
The towering display is also paired with a metal sculpture comprised of tuned bars that emit the melody from U2’s protest anthem “Sunday Bloody Sunday” when pinged in succession. A collaborative video with singer and activist Deon Jones, who police nearly blinded after shooting with a rubber bullet for protesting George Floyd’s murder, plays nearby, drawing together the historic tragedies with those happening today.
“In the Light of a Shadow” is on view through September 5. Find more of Kaino’s works, which span installation and sculpture to film, on his site.
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Cosmic Nature: A Spectacular Polka Dot-Filled Exhibition by Yayoi Kusama Sprawls Across New York Botanical Garden
Now inhabiting the verdant, 250-acre campus of the New York Botanical Garden are oversized flowers sprouting in seasonal arrangements, a glowing pumpkin-packed infinity room, and a sea of 1,400 reflective spheres by Yayoi Kusama (previously). Teeming with squiggly sculptures, site-specific installations, and smaller pieces covered in the Japanese artist’s iconic polka dots, Cosmic Nature is an expansive exhibition celebrating decades of Kusama’s bold, joyful body of work.
Four new pieces are debuting during the immersive show, like the tentacled creature that marks the entrance to the grounds. Others include a 16-foot-tall dancing pumpkin, an obliteration greenhouse, and a new infinity room that reflects the lush greenery of the outdoor environment. Coupled with a variety of smaller acrylic paintings, fabric sculptures, and drawings on paper—the earliest of which dates back to 1945— the most recent works establish a broad visual trajectory of Kusama’s fixation on the natural world and never-ending penchant for polka dots.
While many of the playful blooms connect to larger themes about the human relationship to the environment, some pieces are distinctly personal, including “Flower Obsession,” which invites visitors into a space that mimics the artists’ own greenhouse. “Our earth is only one polka dot among a million stars in the cosmos…when we obliterate nature and our bodies with polka dots, we become part of the unity of our environment,” the prolific artist notably said.
Cosmic Nature opens this weekend at the Bronx venue and runs through October 31. (via Hyperallergic)
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An undulating kinetic artwork by Scale Collective blends organic movement and architectural forms in a mesmerizing installation. Created for the Constellations Festival in Metz, France, “Flux” is comprised of 48 beams of light that stretch 1.5-meters-long and are spaced 40 centimeters apart. Each is connected to a single mechanism that’s motorized and controlled by viewers through an interface, allowing for a synchronized performance of twisting and coiling patterns. “The formal multiplication of these lines coupled with micro variations of phases, time delays, speeds, and amplitudes allows us to sculpt an object 20 meters long, alive and evolving with a cyclical back and forth movement,” the French collective says. See more of the group’s dynamic projects on its site, Vimeo, and Instagram. (via Core 77)
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Sprawling across a bright red floor at Setouchi City Museum of Art is Motoi Yamamoto’s sweeping installation of 100,000 cherry blossoms. Using a small, petal stencil and poured salt, the Kanazawa-based artist meticulously laid a mass of mineral-based buds during the course of 55 hours and nine days. Constructed radially, “Sakura Shibefuru,” or “Falling Cherry Petals” mimics the natural patterns formed around trees after the blossoms drop and end their life cycle each spring, a process Yamamoto (previously) says informed much of the work:
When the red-purple buds fall, for many people, this is also the time when they lose interest due to the flower season being over. However, this time can also be seen as a small nudge to think about the coming fresh greens of spring and midsummer…While thinking about the future of the buds, I created petals that had just fallen, piling the petals while contemplating the trees that produced these beautiful flowers with their thick trunks, supple branches, and powerful roots.
Paired with the crystalline blossoms are two of Yamamoto’s sculptural works from 1995, which the artist considers the origin of his practice and which he created following his sister’s death from a brain tumor. “This was an attempt to engrave into my heart the moment when an important life ceased to exist,” he says. Creating painstaking salt-based pieces like “Sakura Shibefuru”—which Yamamoto shares is, in part, a response to his wife’s death a few years ago—is meditative and a way to work through grief and retain memories.
“Sakura Shibefuru” is on view in Setouchi until May 5, and the artist currently is working on a large-scale project for Suzu’s Oku-Noto Triennale 2020+, which will be installed this fall in a former kindergarten building. Until then, watch Yamamoto’s works take shape on Instagram and YouTube, and shop originals, prints, and books in his store. (via designboom)
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