OLAFUR ELIASSON – ‘TAKE YOUR TIME’ – this is your last !! chance to check it out !!
APRIL 20 – JUNE 30, 2008
P.S.1 CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER
for times & info: P.S.1
there is also an associate exhibit at MoMA.
. . . to our eye – the 2 most interesting parts of the Danish-Icelandic artist OLAFUR ELIASSON’S installation/exhibit – ‘TAKE YOUR TIME’ – (besides the title!!) at P.S.1 are the 2 water pieces.
and of those – one is definitely better than the other. Although ‘Reversed waterfall’ is pretty good – and looks real good in the site – ‘Beauty’ – on the other hand is spectacular – and rises way beyond the sublime. I would put ‘Beauty’ in a class with the 2 URS FISCHER offerings of this year – the dug-out hole at GBE, titled ‘You’ & the currently running (up til JULY 12th !!) ‘Who’s Afraid of Jasper Johns’ at TONY SHAFRAZI – and, I guess that would put ROB PRUITT’S ‘VIAGRA FALLS’ – into the victory waterworld ring, too !!
Though, while Mr. Eliasson’s waterworks take on a gothic and fairy tale aspect – the comparison only serves to better illustrate the funny, rushing and ‘Woodstock revivial’ DIY nature of Mr. Pruitt’s ‘Viagra Falls’ !!
see: GAVIN & URS .. and ROB PRUITT rock TONY !!
. . . approaching ‘Reversed waterfall’.
OLAFUR ELIASSON, ‘reversed waterfall’, 1998.
Scaffolding, steel, water, foil, hose, and pump. Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary.
the base – interesting for its rawness. and coldness.
it’s a reverse waterfall, because a pump delivers the water upwards into staged compartments – till the flow hits the top one and then it exits (downwards) thru a pipe . . . so there is no water cascading downwards, at all. only water moving up. somewhat like a common, albeit, giant, kid’s sand toy that can be seen on ocean beaches.
‘Reverse waterfall’ – one of the most striking features of this fountain ..NOT !! is the huge racket of the water as it hits each succeeding metal unit on the way up. esp. in the open configuration of P.S.1 – its a huge huge clanging sound that echoes throughout the entire building. It sounds like a huge swimming pool full of dedicated strong swimmers – but in the school-like, really school/derived setting – that is P.S.1 – its really strange to note the huge sound of water being churned – but minus the clatter & laughter of children.
another interesting aspect of the piece – is how you can move around it – and the water dynamics become hidden – even though it is so relatively a narrow and ‘transparent’ structure.
from head-on – you wouldn’t even know that water was crashing upwards through it.
on the other side of the hallway – directly opposite to the open room of the ‘Reversed waterfall’ – is a doorway leading to very dark, a very black – elaborately constructed entry. at first you expect another (tedious) video display theater – but NOT !!
warning !! . . . about to enter . . . ‘Beauty’ !!
even the security guard, who we remember being there, at P.S.1 – forever. can’t contain her excitement at showing ‘Beauty’ off – and there is it – can you see it ?
‘Beauty’ – that’s pretty much, exactly !!how it looks, until your eyes adjust somewhat to the blackness. it just stops you cold – completely – it is so unlike anything you
have ever seen before. or coulsd have imagined. and it is silent. and it is magical. it is the lightest thing on earth. it’s hard to comprehend at first. a changing play of almost spectrum pure light reflected onto a wall, actually a spray – of the fine fine water mist.
here’s the previous photo – photo shopped – so you can actually see what it is.
OLAFUR ELIASSON – ‘Beauty’, 1993. Fresnel lamp, water nozzles, hose, wood, and pump. Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, purchased with funds provided by Paul Frankel.
“A spotlight shines obliquely through a curtain of fine mist, creating an indoor rainbow. Your experience of the visual effects is generated by the intersection of water and light and varies in relation to your viewing position within the room.” ~ P.S.1 press release
once you got over being transfixed – you realized you could get right up, in front of it, you could slice your hand though the mist – and even walk around it. that was a strange, strange, contrary feeling – because its effect, its presence – was so intangible. you could even look up, and see how it worked.
it was so the opposite of ‘Reverse waterfall’ in many ways. it was so hidden and dark. and it was so silent. it was as deathly silent, totally silent, as ‘Reverse waterfall’ was clamorous and clanging. even the nozzles that emitted the mist made not a sound, not even a technical whisper.
. . . but in another way, like ‘Reverse waterfall’ – it benefited, gained in visual dynamic & conceptual subtext – from being placed in the basement of P.S. 1 – a transformed old institutional Victorian school – whose careful restoration had saved, impeccably, the original infrastructure. it was totally eerie to come across this absolutely silent mist of ever changing light – in its austere stage, in the school’s basement. It was as if you were Hermoine, and you had stumbled across the forbidden secret of life – hidden deep in the HOGWARTS dungeon.
It was like a forbidden beauty.
. . . when the overhead nozzles – came into realization – it took on an even scarier aspect. NAZI concentration camp death showers. or a GRIMM Bros. fairy tale. we’re like – whoa we would have wondered right in – we did wonder right in – and – totally transfixed by the fragile shimmer beauty – we would have died – unable to turn away – in time.
. . . is that Danish-Icelandic subtext ?
the Fresnel lamp overhead.
looking thru ‘Beauty’ … from behind the mist’s veil.
the stairs leading back up to the exit. ‘Beauty’ was wonderfully staged.
PHOTOS: NANCY SMITH, JUNE 19, 2008