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Olafur Eliasson’s ’Green light’ responds to refugee crisis and civic transformation in Europe

Austria Architecture News - May 18, 2016 - 13:25   7419 views

Olafur Eliasson’s ’Green light’ responds to refugee crisis and civic transformation in Europe

For three months, from March to June, TBA21–Augarten has become the locus of an artistic workshop, a program of shared learning for 35 individuals who have recently arrived in Austria as part of the large waves of migration of the past year, people from Afghanistan, Syria, Nigeria, Tajikistan, Somalia, and Iraq. 

The program, which is also open for the participation of the public at large, involves making an unlimited series of Green light lamps, designed by Olafur Eliasson, and also participating in a wider educational program. During their residency at Augarten, the Green light team organizes its own schedule for the four-day-a-week program. The agenda includes production, classes, communal activities, and artistic interventions, all arranged in collaboration with artists, cultural producers, aid organizations, university students, teachers, sports-coaches and the general public.

Olafur Eliasson’s ’Green light’ responds to refugee crisis and civic transformation in Europe

Olafur Eliasson. Green Light-an artistic workshop, 15 acts of participation. TBA21-Augarten, Vienna 2016. Image: Sandro E.E. Zanzinger © Olafur Eliasson 

Conceived by Eliasson as a metaphorical green light for refugees and migrants in Austria and beyond, Green light testifies to the agency of contemporary art and its potential to initiate processes of civic transformation. The Green light project responds to a situation of great uncertainty, both for refugees, who are often caught up in legal and political limbo, and for the European societies that welcome them. 

Through its communal fabrication, Green light constitutes a dynamic space that elicits various forms of participation and engagement. By collapsing the categories of production and reception, performer and audience, and art and social action, the project aims to open up the contested terrain between art and society, probing the question of what constitutes the “public” and negotiating a field of difference and similarity.

Olafur Eliasson’s ’Green light’ responds to refugee crisis and civic transformation in Europe

View from the workshop. Image courtesy of TBA21.

The crystalline Green light lamps are polyhedral units fitted with small, green-tinted light fixtures. Made predominantly from recycled and sustainable materials and designed to be stackable, the modules can function either as single objects or be assembled into a variety of architectural configurations. At TBA21–Augarten, the lamps will form a steadily expanding environment in the exhibition space that carries the narratives of its making.

Olafur Eliasson’s ’Green light’ responds to refugee crisis and civic transformation in Europe

View from the workshop. Image courtesy of TBA21.

''It is my hope that Green light will shine light on some of the challenges and responsibilities arising from the current refugee crisis in Europe and throughout the world. 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 Vienna. It invites them to take part in the construction of something of value through a playful, creative process. Working together in an artistic context, in dialogue with the regular visitors of the Augarten, participants build both a modular light and a communal environment, in which difference is not only accepted but embraced. Green light attempts to question the values of similarity and otherness in our society and to help shape our feelings of identity and togetherness'' says Olafur Eliasson.

Olafur Eliasson’s ’Green light’ responds to refugee crisis and civic transformation in Europe

View from the workshop. Image courtesy of TBA21.

Green light also shines a light on some of the complexities of and issues caused by international asylum laws. As long as refugees have not been granted asylum in any European country, they do not have the legal right to earn a living or to access free education. Refugees without legal status in Austria are not allowed to receive any compensation for work.

Olafur Eliasson’s ’Green light’ responds to refugee crisis and civic transformation in Europe

Olafur Eliasson. Green Light, 2016. Wood(European ash), recycled yogurt cups (PLA), used plastic bags, recycled nylon, LED (green)-35x35x35cm. Image: Thilo Frank&David de Larrea Remiro/Studio Olafur Eliasson. Courtesy of the artist and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary; produced on the occasion of Green light; An artistic workshop at TBA21-Augarten, Vienna, by the Green light team. Image © Olafur Eliasson.  

As a result, refugees who are taking part in the Green light project are volunteers in a three-month-long artistic workshop and a shared learning curriculum. All proceeds from the project go to supporting the educational platform of Green light–Shared Learning and the organizations such as Red Cross Vienna, Caritas and Georg Danzer Haus. Order a Green light with a donation of €300 here or participate in the artistic workshop at TBA21–Augarten, Vienna and benefit from a production price of € 250.

Olafur Eliasson’s ’Green light’ responds to refugee crisis and civic transformation in Europe

Olafur Eliasson. Green Light, 2016. Wood(European ash), recycled yogurt cups (PLA), used plastic bags, recycled nylon, LED (green)-35x35x35cm. Image: Thilo Frank&David de Larrea Remiro/Studio Olafur Eliasson. Courtesy of the artist and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary; produced on the occasion of Green light; An artistic workshop at TBA21-Augarten, Vienna, by the Green light team. Image © Olafur Eliasson.  

TBA21–Augarten, Vienna | March 12–June 5, 2016

TBA21–Augarten

Scherzergasse 1A, 1020 Vienna, Austria

Top image: Olafur Eliasson. Green Light-an artistic workshop, 15 acts of participation. TBA21-Augarten, Vienna 2016. Image: Sandro E.E. Zanzinger © Olafur Eliasson 

> via www.tba21.org/#