Review: Olafur Eliasson at the MCA

The foyer of the MCA is now lit by an elaborate spherical light. This light, with a complex arrangement of mirrors surrounding it, is the work of Olafur Eliasson, the Danish/Icelandic artist. Eliasson specialises in large-scale installations that “transforms our experience of the space around us”.

Contemporary art for me is always somewhat controversial. Sometimes the artworks are too abstract to interpret, sometimes the message is clear (this is good), and sometimes they raise questions about whether the work is authentic. In regards to the last point, have you ever seen an artwork and said to yourself, ” I could have done that!” ?

Upon walking into the exhibition, there lies a large table of white LEGO blocks, and constructions. There are three tonnes of these ubiquitous blocks, and this installation could potentially win the award for the longest interaction with the audience. Yes, those LEGO blocks are for you to build something to your heart’s content. I must have spent about 20 minutes joining blocks into something unsubstantial. Still, it’s a nice metaphor for “I’m lazy, you make something cool.”

Another of Eliasson’s installations is a room of ‘monofrequency’ lights, shining down to the ground. Once you walk in to the room, your vision is altered by the intense colour of the light. Trying to return to reality is tempting, although your vision entices you to watch it go by, as the sights are somewhat peculiar. Eliasson has several other installations that play with light and your sight.

I was somewhat surprised that I was able to offer an interpretation to most of Eliasson’s works. But I was also surprised that simple elements (like water and light) can combine to create something visually interesting.

If you want to see some ‘different’ art, I would recommend seeing this exhibition. Just make sure you know when you need to return to reality.

MCA website: Olafur Eliasson

Update: The exhibition finishes on the 11th April.

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