For his current exhibition project “Life” at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen (Basel, Switzerland), artist Olafur Eliasson floods half the museum with water dyed green. On the south side of the museum, all the windows have been removed so that the adjacent water lily pond now extends into the museum itself. Visitors can move around the rooms on walkways, and instead of paintings or sculptures, there are water plants (dwarf water lilies, shellflowers, water ferns) to see. The bright green water, which takes up most of the space, is infused with uranine, a nontoxic dye used to study water flow, to make the presence of the water explicit. The exhibition runs until July 2021.
Olafur Eliasson: Life. Solo exhibition at Fondation Beyeler in Riehen (Basel, Switzerland). Press preview, April 14, 2021.
Eliasson refers to “Life” at Fondation Beyeler as a naturalcultural landscape. The term Natureculture was coined by feminist scientist, historian and author Donna Haraway. The artist says, ‘Life isn’t about shaping a gloomy landscape that spells disaster but about presenting a model for a future landscape’. Eliasson recognizes that for a long time, many people considered humans exceptional beings, placing ourselves above nature and proposes that now we have to acknowledge that we humans are little less exceptional than we thought.
‘Planetary life survived at least three billion years before humanity…We need honesty. We need to be freed from our species-specific arrogance. No evidence exists that we are chosen, the unique species for which all the others were made. Nor are we the most important one because we are so numerous, powerful, and dangerous. Our tenacious illusion of special dispensation belies our true status as upright mammalian weeds.‘ — Biologist Lynn Margulis
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