Landscapes, by definition, aren’t meant to be confined inside, but leave it to Olafur Eliasson to fashion a masterpiece from the great outdoors. The latest installation from the renowned Danish-Icelandic artist has transformed the entire south wing of Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art into a riverbed, challenging the ever-increasing intersection between the natural and man-made worlds. The three-part exhibition appropriately titled “Riverbed” (through Jan. 4, 2015) is Eliasson’s first solo exhibition at the museum just outside his native city of Copenhagen—and an ambitious one to say the least. In the museum’s model room, 400 geometric models once used to plan future works are piled onto one long table for an interpretation of an artist’s workshop. In the hall gallery, three video works toy with different approaches to the idea of the body as a piece of sculpture. And, most notably, the flooring of the south wing is now made of earth, water, and rocks.
The white walls are left barren, there are no captions to squint at for explanations; instead, viewers experience the exhibit’s main piece of art by walking on it, wandering through it, and exploring it with their senses beyond just sight (note that it’s slippery, and wheelchairs are not allowed). It’s a tour-de-force of Eliasson’s affinity for taking natural environments and turning them into art, such as the mural made of Icelandic moss he put up at New York’s MoMA in 2008, or the gorgeously glowing sunset he created out of lights at the Tate Modern in 2003. His work is right on par with other artists who use the earth as their medium, such as James Turrell, whose widely sought-after “Skyspace” installations meditatively manipulate the way viewers see the sky. Most similar is Walter de Maria, whose aptly titled sculpture “The New York Earth Room” has kept a studio space on Manhattan’s Wooster Street filled with more than 125,000 kilograms of earth since 1977. “Riverbed” adds to this growing genre of art, and when in Denmark, it’s worth a visit—and a return to nature.
For more information, visit Louisiana Museum of Modern Art