A shining example: Olafur Eliasson, number 14 on the list of the world’s most influential artists, is bringing light to the world with a bright idea.
AS WELL AS BEING a natural physical phenomenon, light is also one of the key leitmotifs in the work of Olafur Eliasson; it features in his installations and exhibitions in the world’s biggest and most important art museums. At the Prinz Eugen Palais in Austria he used yellow mono-frequency tubes under which participants can see only in monochrome but in far greater detail. At his Green Light Workshop at the Biennale in Venice, refugees and visitors assembled green lighting modules.
One of his first major international highlights was The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in London in 2003. Eliasson built a gigantic artificial sun using monochromatic lamps, filled the hall with a fine mist and visually enlarged the already gigantic hall of the former Bankside Power Station by covering the ceiling with a gigantic mirror. Visitors lay on the floor like sunbathers worshipping the artificial sun.
Olafur Eliasson was born in 1967 in Denmark, grew up in Iceland and studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. He lives and works in Berlin.
Eliasson’s artistic exploration of the phenomenon of light has even started a global mission from his Berlin studio. Together with engineer Frederik Ottesen, Olafur Eliasson designed the solar lamps Little Sun and Little Sun Diamond, which provide power to people who are off-grid and which are also miniature sculptures that are sold in museum shops.
The first African country where the two founders presented their idea was Ethiopia, in 2012. This country holds a special place in Eliasson’s heart, as he and his wife adopted their two children in Ethiopia.
He is familiar with the region’s shady sides, knows that many children have to do their homework by the toxic light of petroleum lamps, and he loves the beauty of the country: “In Sub-Saharan Africa it gets dark abruptly, there is virtually no dusk”, says Eliasson. “Suddenly, the world is pitch-black, which is truly beautiful except that you can’t see anything.”
A small solar-powered lamp can make a vast difference.
Olafur Eliasson with Little Sun Diamond. Each purchase sponsors the sale of a lamp at a lower price in regions where people have no access to electricity. For more details: www.littlesun.com.
Access to light is something we take for granted. And yet the effect that light has is as crucial as it has always been. Light illuminates the things that are important for us: the path ahead, the main protagonist on the stage, the things worth seeing. Objects made of KALDEWEI enamelled steel repay the favour of lighting with an elegant gleam.