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Olafur Eliasson installs mirrored shelters to explore human perception and natural world in Doha

Qatar Architecture News - Oct 28, 2022 - 14:37   1591 views

Olafur Eliasson installs mirrored shelters to explore human perception and natural world in Doha

Icelandic–Danish artist Olafur Eliasson has created a site-specific installation that explores the relationship between human perception and the natural world in Doha desert, Qatar

The installation, called Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day, is a newly-commissioned artwork presented as part of one of the world's most ambitious public art programs by Qatar Museums and its Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

Besides Olafur Eliasson's artwork, Lebanese-American artist Simone Fattal and Brazilian contemporary visual artist Ernesto Neto's site-specific installations are among the presented works which take place during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

More than 100 public artworks can be seen across the nation’s public spaces - from the Hamad International Airport to the bustling Souq Waqif until 18 December 2022 when 1.5 million visitors are expected to be in Doha.

Olafur Eliasson installs mirrored shelters to explore human perception and natural world in Doha

Olafur Eliasson. (Shadows travelling on the sea of the day), 2022. Steel, fibreglass, glass mirrors 4.53 x 10.51 x 10.51 metre | ø 8.2 metre | ø 8.2 metre. Installation view: Northern Heritage sites, Doha, Qatar, 2022. Photography © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

Invading Qatar's nearby heritage sites, Olafur Eliasson’s artwork is situated on a rugged desert past Fort Zubarah and the village of Ain Mohammed, an abandoned village located 3.5 km north of Al Zubarah, sits directly opposite the new Al Zubarah Visitor Centre and consists of 24 buildings including 2 mosques and a fort. 

The installation aims to be "a longstanding exploration into the interplay of human perception and the natural world." 

Olafur Eliasson installs mirrored shelters to explore human perception and natural world in Doha

Olafur Eliasson. (Shadows travelling on the sea of the day), 2022. Steel, fibreglass, glass mirrors 4.53 x 10.51 x 10.51 metre | ø 8.2 metre | ø 8.2 metre. Installation view: Northern Heritage sites, Doha, Qatar, 2022. Photography © Iwan Baan, Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

Eliasson scatters twenty mirrored circular shelters in layout of three single rings and two double rings. The shelters are positioned according to the axes of a fivefold symmetrical pattern, with the ten shelters at the centre forming a pentagram, or five-pointed star. 

To create such patterns, the artist takes inspiration from the principles that were recently discovered by mathematicians in the West, "although they may have informed some of the sophisticated designs found in Islamic cultures since medieval times" stated in a press release by Qatar Museums.

"Shadows travelling on the sea of the day, 2022, is an invitation to resync with the planet," said Olafur Eliasson. 

"It is a celebration of everything being in and moving through the desert site north of Doha at the time of your visit – animals, plants, and human beings; stories, traditions, and cultural artefacts; wind, sunlight, air, and shimmering heat," the artist added.

The scale of the installation is much more understandable from a closer look. Upon arriving at the installation, looking up at the mirrored undersides, visitors "will come to realise that you are, in fact, looking down – at the earth and at themselves."

Olafur Eliasson installs mirrored shelters to explore human perception and natural world in Doha

Olafur Eliasson (Shadows travelling on the sea of the day), 2022. Steel, fibreglass, glass mirrors 4.53 x 10.51 x 10.51 metre | ø 8.2 metre | ø 8.2 metre. Installation view: Northern Heritage sites, Doha, Qatar, 2022. Photography © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

The shelters are interacting with this immersive environment while the visitors are hugged by a strong impact of their reflections on earth. Both above and below, sand envelops the visitors, together with anyone else sharing the space.  

According to the artist, the artwork becomes a kind of reality check of the visitors' connectedness to the ground. 

"The mirrors connect and perfect what is physically distinct and partial, linking the actual surroundings with the reflected space and creating a sea of interconnections," stated the artist.

"The oscillation of your gaze, together with the movement of your body, may amplify your sense of presence, while the curving structures seem to dematerialise, becoming naturalcultural landscape," Eliasson added.

Eliasson believes that art can be seen as a conduit for dialogue and for listening. He hopes that the creative collaborations and the embodied experiences and space for self-reflection can "provide alternative, productive means for us to meet each other across communities and cultures, both now and in the longer term."

Olafur Eliasson installs mirrored shelters to explore human perception and natural world in Doha

Olafur Eliasson (Shadows travelling on the sea of the day), 2022. Steel, fibreglass, glass mirrors 4.53 x 10.51 x 10.51 metre | ø 8.2 metre | ø 8.2 metre. Installation view: Northern Heritage sites, Doha, Qatar, 2022. Photography © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

The artist used steel, fibreglass and glass mirrors for the shelters. Each circular surface has a width of 4.53 meters and reaches 10.5 meters at height. Each size of a circle has a diameter 8.2 meters. Circular mirrored shelters are supported by semi-circular steel supports where visitors can pass through. 

"When it comes to responding to something like the climate emergency, art, unlike activism, is often slow and circuitous. It offers multilayered spaces of wonder, questioning, and critical reflection," said Olafur Eliasson. 

"Yet I think art does help many people around the world to conjure up alternative perspectives and to imagine new narratives for how we can successfully co-exist on earth in a more sustainable way. Shadows travelling on the sea of the day will provide, I hope, a space for visitors to resync with the planet and may prompt conversations about climate action on a local scale," Eliasson added.

Studio Other Spaces, founded by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann, has revealed design for a wine tasting pavilion with colorful, conic glass canopy on California's hills.

In addition, Olafur Eliasson and international design and innovation firm CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati have collaborated on a write and erase robot Scribit, a spin-off company of CRA that produces smart vertical plotters. 

Top image: Olafur Eliasson. Shadows travelling on the sea of the day (2022). Steel, fibreglass, glass mirrors 4.53 x 10.51 x 10.51 metre | ø 8.2 metre | ø 8.2 metre. Installation view: Northern Heritage sites, Doha, Qatar, 2022. Photography © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of the artist; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles © 2022 Olafur Eliasson.

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