You may go to a museum and expect that you will be seeing various art objects. However, you would be mistaken; what you’d see – or what you’d experience here- is the unity of perception rather than an object. The objects of contemporary art come to be seen in a different way in contrast to traditional art works. While the field provides flexibility for ideas like ‘’everybody can be an artist’’ or ‘anything can be an artwork’’, you may came across art objects that are inappropriate but also something that you would never expect to see in a museum. What if the artist tells you another story and dares to shift the object of art?: “Beyond what you see here, see yourself seeing.’’


Riverbed, Olafur Eliasson @Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

‘’ You could say that I am trying to put the body in the mind and the mind in the body.’’
‘’ You could say that I am trying to put the body in the mind and the mind in the body.’’ Olafur Eliasson, who is a conceptual artist, emphasizes that the interpretation of experience itself is a paradox in his artworks, due to his occasional use of natural elements or even natural fragments within them. This paradox underlies his core idea, leading him to claim that ‘’You could say that I am trying to put the body in the mind and the mind in the body.’’ Indeed, in the back of his approach lies the creation of fragments of nature, or the simulation of nature, and his use of the main elements of nature like water, soil, air and fog are inherited from modern philosophy. As one of the leading figures of modern philosophy, Kant asserted that the marvelous human gaze towards nature creates a sensation of almightiness beyond perception. He also puts the human mind in the center of nature in contrast to what was often thought by Renaissance figures, who focused on only human beings. As Kant wrote, in fact, all of our experiences and senses are filtered through a glass which refracts our interpretations through ourselves. From our manner of perception to the artworks that we find beautiful, this ‘’Glass of Kant’’ is not only the reference point of our experience but also the biggest factor behind the results of our interpretation. Ultimately, this glass is made of the social and cultural bases of human life and consists of a code that accompanies our habitat. On the other hand, the glass is the crux of experimentation, and everything must pass through this filter as well. Indeed, it is an inevitable fact that these interpretations shape our experience as much as we interpret our experiences. Olafur creates his framework of conceptual art idea through the judgment of taste that is the core topic in art criticism while focusing on the relation between nature and art. Olafur also emphasizes the ‘objectless’ idea of contemporary art and even refers to minimalism. He points at the subject, which is beyond the painting or sculpture that you look at- beyond an object- even beyond an interactive installation; our sensation is the only thing that can be perceived. His works shows that the physical object of art is shifting into metaphysical concepts. You may easily infer this point when you look at the name of his artworks and exhibitions; Your Emotional Future, Your Uncertain Shadow, Feeling Things, Body as a Brain. Olafur places the human and his or her experiences in his idea of perception of art, and also follows the same way in his practical processes. During the period of planning and thinking through operations, dozens of multi-disciplinary people are involved in the process apart from just his team. Renowned figures like Einar Thorsteinn and Sebastian Behmann are the architects whose names are frequently mentioned with Eliasson. He also supports collective production processes by collaborating with scientists or designers. Olafur also open debates such as ”How should an artwork be installed?” or ”How should an art space be fictionalized?” He also seems to wonder, in objectless conditions, “What would be the problems between artists and museums or galleries?” Olafur Eliasson’s art journey, which started at the Royal Collage of Art Copenhagen, welcomes Turkish visitors with Istanbul Modern’s “The Past and The Future” exhibition and a piece of artwork (Red Emotional Globe) he brought into his contemporary arts collection.

This article is published in Tasarim Magazine No: 244 both in English&Turkish.