Nel Tuo Tempo (In your time), Olafur Eliassons largest exhibition in Italy to date, opened to audiences in Florence today, unveiling a major new site specific courtyard installation that uses the moiré effect to create a unique visual experience for every visitor.
Featuring a number of new, site specific works, the exhibition embraces the Palazzo Strozzi
s Renaissance architecture in creating a powerful series of immaterial artworks that address subjective perception and shared experience. The exhibition brings together new and older works that feature light, shadows, reflections, patterns, and intense colour, and includes new digital artwork created using VR technology presented to the public for the first time at Palazzo Strozzi.
Curated by Arturo Galansino, the exhibition is the result of the artists direct interaction with the spaces of Palazzo Strozzi whose historical and symbolic architecture he rethinks with installations built around the visitor who becomes an integral part of the artwork. Eliasson has taken inspiration from the Palazzo Strozzis history as a centre for the study of Humanism (a philosophy that sits at the intersection of art and science), creating a pathway through each space that combines new installations and some historic work that subvert and refract perceptions of the space, and encourage the visitor to percieve the building with a new perspective.
The exhibition begins with Under the weather (2022), a site-specific artwork for the public space of Palazzo Strozzis courtyard that comprises a large elliptical structure over 10 meters tall and suspended 8 meters above the ground. The installation conjures a moiré effect, which destabilises the viewers perception of Palazzo Strozzis strict orthogonal architecture, challenging its stable, unchanging historical structure. As visitors move around the courtyard, looking up at the work, the moiré pattern changes and shifts, interacting with everyone individually it is the exchange between the viewers movement that activates the work, and their personal visual experience that completes the work. Only when seen from specific vantage points at either end of the courtyard does the ellipse appear circular.
Visitors move from the courtyard into the Palazzo, where they discover Eliassons direct dialogue with the architecture, which he interrogates through adding artificial lights, fleeting shadows, reflections, moiré effects and intense colours. Far from being simply a vessel or a backdrop, the building becomes a co-producer of the artworks, a creative tool in interacting with visitors perception.
In the first three rooms of Palazzo Strozzis Piano Nobile, Eliasson alters the Palazzos windows with installations that employ lights, colours and shadows. The artist invites us to perceive the architecture in a new way, destabilising our traditional understanding of it. Eliassons intervention in the rooms of the Palazzo is minimal, yet he manages to create strong, engaging atmospheres in which the central figure is the relationship between the exterior and interior space typical of Palazzo Strozzi and its large windows overlooking both the courtyard and the street. Lights reveal the irregularities of the glass: bubbles, scratches and dust make the materiality of the windows evident, encouraging visitors to become aware of the glass as a membrane separating the inside from the outside. This basic mediating surface makes shelter and domesticity possible while also allowing visual communication, calling to mind the large Gothic and Renaissance windows found in churches throughout the city, in which light was considered a visible manifestation of the divine and a metaphor for spiritual elevation.
Two works in the exhibition echo the theme of the circle and the ellipse introduced in the courtyard: How do we live together (2019) is a large metal arc that dramatically bisects a room at a diagonal. The effect is a simple illusion that Eliasson has used in an array of past works, such as The weather project (2003) at Tate Modern: a half ring is affixed to a mirror on the ceiling so that room and ring are doubled. The half ring becomes whole, uniting real and virtual space. The second circular installation, Solar compression (2016), comprises a disc with mirrors on each side. Suspended in space, it turns steadily. The artwork emits a yellow light from between the two faces of the disc, flooding the room. The same yellow monofrequency light (in other words, light limited to the yellow wavelengths of the visible spectrum) saturates the installation Room for one colour (1997), reducing all colours to shades of grey and yellow, while heightening the viewers perception of details.
Beauty (1993) showcases a shimmering rainbow in which beams of white light shining through a curtain of mist are broken into the colours of the visible spectrum. This apparition depends on the light projected from a precisely angled spotlight, as refracted and reflected by the water droplets, meeting the eye of the viewer. No two viewers see the same rainbow.
Firefly double-polyhedron sphere experiment (2020) is emblematic of Eliassons work and testifies to his exploration of vision as an action of fragmentation and complexity of thought. The large polyhedron, made of pieces of green, orange, yellow, cyan and pink glass, spawned from the artists long-standing interest in geometry and light. In the same room, visitors can peer into Colour spectrum kaleidoscope (2003), which consists of dichromatic mirrors of various colours in a hexagonal kaleidoscope that is mounted on a wooden tripod. Eliasson says: Kaleidoscopes play on the fact that what we see can easily be disorganised or reconfigured. They use a playful approach to show us different ways of looking at the world. In that sense we might say that a kaleidoscope represents a different point of view.
The exhibition continues in the spaces of the Strozzina with artworks that continue Eliassons focus on perception and his exploration into the moiré effect. Fivefold dodecahedron lamp (2006) consists of a dodecahedron that contains a highly reflective glass tetrahedron, while Eye see you (2006) creates a slight moiré effect according to the position and movement of the viewer. In addition, in the series City Plan (2018), seven maps of the city, traced back to geometric shapes on mirrors, reflect local newspapers replaced daily, to re-present considerations on time, a main theme of the exhibition.
Presented to the public for the first time, the new artwork Your view matter (2022) uses VR technology to explore bodily perception in the digital space. Donning a special headset, visitors enter a digital world comprising a series of six virtual spaces. Five of these spaces each take the form of one of the Platonic solids the tetrahedron, octahedron, icosahedron, dodecahedron, and cube while the sixth takes us inside an immense sphere.
Here, visitors can move about the spaces in virtual reality, accompanied by a pulsing minimalist soundtrack created by the artist. They can interact with the complex geometry from within by moving and looking in all directions in what is a deeply experiential interaction. The walls and ceilings some of which are quite colourful, while others appear in stark black and white scintillate with ever-changing moirés. In the tetrahedron the first space that visitors encounter the moiré arises as a result of the resolution limits of the VR headset, reflecting the headsets own noise and drawing attention to the device. Since none of the moiré patterns are visible unless the viewer moves, the artwork only emerges in the visitors perceptual apparatuses through movement. Eliasson says Its a process of unlearning and relearning how vision works, involving not only vision but also the movement of your head, body, and brain.
The exhibition, conceived by Studio Olafur Eliasson, is promoted and organised by the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi. Main Supporter: Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi. Supporters: Comune di Firenze, Regione Toscana, Camera di Commercio di Firenze, Comitato dei Partner di Palazzo Strozzi and Intesa Sanpaolo. The countryard installation Under the weather (2022), has been made possible thanks to the support of the Fondazione Hillary Merkus Recordati within the Palazzo Strozzi Future Art programme. Thanks to the support of Maria Manetti Shrem and Città Metropolitana di Firenze.
The exhibition is produced in conjunction with the Castello di Rivoli Museo dArte Contemporanea which will be hosting a site-specific installation by the artist from 3rd November 2022.