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Olafur Eliasson's "Yellow Fog" on the Facade of Verbund's "Am Hof" Building in Vienna
Yellow Fog installation by Olafur Elliason at Verbund Am Hof in Vienna. Photo: EFE / Hans Klaus Techt.

VIENNA.- Directly in the center of Vienna, Verbund presents Yellow fog, Olafur Eliasson's most important intervention in public space in Austria as a permanent work of art. Olafur Eliasson is one of the most successful contemporary artists. His impressive work was shown in New York in 1998 and can now be seen exclusively and permanently for the first time again. Locations for the intervention are the Verbund building and the historic plaza, Am Hof, which at dusk this turns into a public stage for an orchestration of light and fog.

Along the 48 meters long façade the intervention Yellow fog is activated every day for one hour at dusk in public space. A grid is embedded in the pavement along the Verbund Headquarters' facade, under which 32 fluorescent tubes are installed. This source of light was chosen because it gives off a homogenous, rather than a spot light. The color of the light, its specific yellow, has been attuned several times by the artist himself. After dusk begins to fall, for about 40 seconds, fog rises up the façade in yellow light. In three-minute intervals the process is repeated, shrouding the building in an ephemeral veil.

The fog serves as a fleeting projection screen for the light. It not only obscures the view of space, but can also create a more precise experience of distance and spatial relations. The fog's movement is particularly exciting. It expands space towards the pavement, shifting the attention to the building as well as to the passers-by on the entire square. Talking with the director of the collection, Gabriele Schor, the artist explains:"Yellow fog connects the inside with the outside. That which is in the building, namely the artworks of the Sammlung Verbund in the Vertical Gallery, is communicated outward into public space."

The artist considers fog as his "tool", his "instrument", and uses it to give us a new perception of urban space. Contrary to other colors, such as white and blue, the yellow color makes the fog particularly visible in the dark. Because of the yellow fog we perceive of the building's façade, its entrance, its doors and windows, as well as the pavement in a different way. The relationship between all these phenomena and the passers-by is redefined.

Through the fog our perception of the entire plaza ensemble, the houses, the crossroads, the pavement and people is renewed. The fog allows to determine public space in an another way, to experience its depth and width differently. The passers-by are relating to public space, and when it is orchestrated in a different way, our cultural perception also changes. Together with the Baroque ensemble, the sober architecture of the Verbund building is set in a new relation with onlookers, and conversely the passsers-by experience a different dialogue between themselves and the plaza. The different weather and wind conditions let us see Yellow fog, the building and the plaza each day in a new way.

The atmospheric quality of a natural phenomenon is thwarted by its placement within an urban environment and the conscious display of its production. The visibility of the artwork's construction is an important aspect of Olafur Eliasson's work, "In making the construction visible, I hope to lend an open character to my work. Because this openness allows for different ways of experiencing and understanding the artwork."

In his art, Olafur Eliasson is coming from the "onlooker", rather than the work itself. The aesthetics of reception is a central, perhaps even determining part of Olafur Eliasson's work. Using ephemeral and almost intangible materials, such as light and fog, Eliasson turns away from the object character of an art work. Thereby he refers to often negelected factors such as the social component, movement, environment and the recipients' position in public space. By turning Yellow fog on when dusk begins to fall - between day and night - subtle changes in the day's rhythm are presented.

Olafur Eliasson originally orchestrated Yellow fog in 1998 in New York at The Jewish Museum, on occasion of the exhibition "Light x Eight: The Hanukkah Project". Together with Olafur Eliasson 8 artists participated in the exhibition: Eleanor Antin, Jessica Bronson, Dan Flavin, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Jorge Pardo, Diana Thater and Krzysztof Wodiczko.

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