Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life at Tate Modern

Date of event: 11/07/19 - 05/01/20

If you’ve been anywhere in central London recently, you will have seen the multiple tube advertisements and London buses broadcasting Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson’s new solo exhibition, currently on view at the Tate Modern. The main feature being Your uncertain shadow (colour) 2010 – not the only interactive artwork in the exhibit you’ll find yourself flailing your limbs in front of, taking photos for your Instagram page.

Olafur Eliasson’s ‘In Real Life’ is on until 5th January 2020 and is an unmissable exhibit that is well worth a visit. Ensure you give yourself plenty of time to roam the 14 rooms displaying over 40 works made between 1990 and today – each one as unique and exciting as the next, as he plays with light, sound, and tactility and encourages his audience to do the same.

For those of you wondering why the name Olafur Eliasson rings a bell, you will no doubt have seen, read or heard about his glowing sun, The weather project, which attracted more than two million people to the Turbine Hall in 2003. It is the impressiveness of his creations which is why his relationship with Tate is still going strong, and his current works have been curated so that each step you take, you are introduced to a new concept and a new means to connect – either individually or collectively.

“The people in the room are in fact the producers of content,” Eliasson said in an interview, “It was very important to consider whether we hand the narrative or the authority of art to the visitor.”

There is no doubt that audience experience is the focal point of Eliasson’s art, as his all-consuming installations, sculptures, photography and paintings captivate multiple senses. Beauty 1993 immediately brought on a sense of calm and tranquility as I listened to the faint droplets and absorbed the light layer of moisture in the air. It was hard to not jump right in and lie down underneath the water flow in this heavy 30+ degree London heat. But I refrained because I’m an adult, and also my friend didn’t let me.

“Eliasson’s work comes from three particularly important interests, These are: his concern with nature, honed through his time spent in Iceland; his research into geometry; and his ongoing investigations into how we perceive, feel about and shape the world around us.”

In some cases, it is the loss of senses you experience, which gave me a feeling of slight anxiety mixed with childlike excitement to calm my nerves – as if I were on a school trip. Die blinde passager (Your blind passenger) 2010 is precisely what you might imagine it to be, although I won’t put any spoilers here for those who don’t know (try to resist googling if you don’t, as it was thrilling to go in completely unprepared). All you need to know is that it’s a 39 metre long room with almost nothing in it, you can’t really get lost, and there is an exit door at the end so you can regain the senses you lost. I just wish the room was a few miles longer so I had more time to play.

The seeing space, 2015

Studio Olafur Eliasson is a team of about 90 people: craftsmen, specialised technicians, architects, archivists, art historians, web and graphic designers, film-makers, cooks, and administrators. Their collective collaboration produces experiments, exhibitions, events, and workshops in order to further artistic and intellectual discussion within society.

So if you have any time between now and next January, ensure you make a visit ‘in real life’, because the photos do not do it justice (they’re just really good for your Instagram). I would advise you not to be shy and make sure you stay long enough at each artwork to get the full experience; talk to people, make ‘wow’ noises, pose for the camera, don’t be embarrassed about interaction because that’s what makes the entire experience valuable.

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life is on view at Tate Modern until 5th January, 2020.

Take a look at Olafur Eliasson’s website here.

Tate Modern has been a member of Own Art since 2016.

Photography by Mia Dunning.