“Green light is an act of welcoming, addressed both to those who have fled hardship and instability in their home countries and to the residents of the cities receiving them.” — Olafur Eliasson
Olafur Eliasson brings refugees and visitors together to create crystalline green light lamps and discuss migration issues and challenges.
At Viva Arte Viva, the 57th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, forty individuals from a range of countries – including Nigeria, Gambia, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, and China – have signed up as participants to date through nine local partnering NGOs, all based in the municipality of Venice. Divided into two teams, they take part for a maximum of two months in the artistic workshop as well as the extensive Shared learning program, which offers free access to all its activities. The participants lead the daily lamp-building workshops, acting as hosts in the Green light space and engaging with the Biennale visitors.
Located in the Central Pavilion, Green light is a space of individual and collective “world-making” that emerges from practical workshop activities and spreads out into society at large. By presenting a multilayered concept of hospitality that encompasses a wide variety of people – an artist, his studio, the participants, partnering NGOs, the visitors, etc. – Green light tests alternative models of community.
“I am very pleased to be able to present the project at the Biennale Arte 2017. To me, going to the Biennale has always been about going deeper into reality, not about exiting reality. Mass displacement and migration are core challenges in the world today, affecting millions of people around the globe. Green light displays a modest strategy for addressing the challenges and responsibilities arising from the current situation and shines a light on the value of collaborative work and thinking.”
The crystalline Green light lamp, designed by Olafur Eliasson, is a polyhedral unit fitted with a small green-tinted LED. Made predominantly from recycled and sustainable materials and designed to be stackable, the modules can function either alone as single objects or be assembled into a variety of architectural and sculptural configurations that attest to the collective nature of their production.
At the Central Pavilion, the Green light space is divided into three zones: a landscape of tables defines the space where the lamps are assembled; a semienclosed seating arrangement acts as an amphitheater, where lectures, classes,
and seminars are held; and couches and chairs form a lounge, where participants can take a break or socialize.
Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) is a Danish-Icelandic artist known for sculptures and large-scale installation art employing elemental materials such as light, water, and air temperature to enhance the viewer’s experience. In 1995 he established Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin, a laboratory for spatial research. Olafur represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 and later that year installed The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London.
Olafur Eliasson’s art is driven by his interests in perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. Eliasson strives to make the concerns of art relevant to society at large. Art, for him, is a crucial means for turning thinking into doing in the world. Eliasson’s diverse works – in sculpture, painting, photography, film, and installations – have been exhibited widely throughout the world. Not limited to the confines of the museum and gallery, his practice engages the broader public sphere through architectural projects and interventions in civic space.
Olafur Eliasson, in collaboration with Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Green light – An artistic workshop at the 57 th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia Viva Arte Viva (May 13–November 26, 2017), curated by Christine Macel.
Olafur Eliasson | filmed by Out of Sync | Venice May 2017
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Producer | Out of Sync
Artworks courtesy | Olafur Eliasson
© Out of Sync 2017