Image credit: Dezeen

Monday, 25th November 2019



Bella recently visited Olafur Eliasson’s retrospective ‘In Real Life’ at the Tate Modern. 


Visiting the current ‘In Real Life’ retrospective of Danish-Icelandic contemporary artist, Olafur Eliasson is a confusing experience. From the moment you step out of the lift onto the exhibition floor you are immersed in yellow-orange light, turning the world monochrome. Visitors momentarily pause, confounded, flipping their hands over to check they're included in the monochrome and slowly taking in their accompanying visitors's changed appearance. It's disorientating, as if we've been delivered into a new parallel dimension- a feeling that follows you through the exhibition. 


The monochrome lights pop up repeatedly throughout the retrospective, most notably half way through a passage of thick white fog. The fog is claustrophobically thick- you can't see further than a foot in front of you and there's no escaping it. Punctuated by a monochrome light half way along, in the fog you become hyper-aware of the blueness of 'normal' light which meets the monochrome as an ultramarine fog. It's Eliasson playing with your sense of reality- what seemed like a very long walk through it was probably only half the distance I would have guessed. 


Between the various works which include a wall of vanilla Reindeer moss, a manmade rainbow and numerous variations on a kaleidoscope, Eliasson repeatedly asks you to notice the world around you and question your own reality. Everyday things become subjects of aesthetic intrigue: daylight, water, even the people around you. Eliasson has worked closely with philosopher, Timothy Morton, who believes that the way we understand the world around us is the root cause of climate change. It’s a subtle shift, when was the last time you really looked at the person next to you, noticed the air around you or the blueness of daylight? The immediacy of our environment is something we’re rarely attuned to, Eliasson’s work aims to awaken you to your surroundings. 


‘In Real Life’ is on until 5th January 2020 at the Tate Modern.