Eliasson: Environmental Resonance

Eliasson: Environmental Resonance

Offering a permanent, publicly accessible home to the vast contemporary art collection of brothers Maurice and Paul Marciano, the eponymous Marciano Art Foundation opened its doors last year in Los Angeles. Originally built in 1961 as a Masonic Temple, it is a peculiar and unique site, well-suited to its vibrant new use and expertly re-purposed by Kulapat Yantrasast (wHY). Now, for its second artistic project, Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson (b.1967) takes over the expansive Theater Gallery, offering a captivating intervention that encourages the viewer to engage with an apparently empty space in a meaningful, evocative manner.

He seems the perfect choice for this commission: internationally recognised for his sensitive, socially aware output, he is committed to an inter-disciplinary practice informed by pressing contemporary concerns, such as environmental change and sustainability. As well as running Studio Olafur Eliasson (Berlin, since 1995), which now employs over 90 people, from resident art historians and craftsmen to programmers and technicians, he recently co-founded a sustainable energy firm, Little Sun (2012), and an experimental art and architecture practice, Studio Other Spaces (2014). Collaboration is key to what he does, and in developing the present piece he worked closely with Jónsi of Sigur Rós to produce the immersive audio.

The piece Reality projector, is deceptively simple. It is based around shadow play and the existing structure of the former theatre, building upon his interests in embodied experience and feelings of self. Projected light is manipulated to make the space function as a highly abstract, three-dimensional film. This work allows for a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the space truly free from objects: in a way, the shadows serve to emphasise silences in the built form and highlight what isn’t there. Understanding the history of the building as well as Los Angeles’ own long tradition of film-making offers a deep sense of resonance, and makes for an insightful installation that is highly in tune with its environs.

Until 1 August. Find out more here.

Anna Feintuck

1. Olafur Eliasson’s Reality projector in Marciano Art Foundation’s Theater Gallery. Photo by Joshua White/JWPictures.com.