Each week, Artful spotlights an art experience or destination that speaks to us right now.
Artists like to talk about opening up the white box of the museum or gallery space, but not many of them have gone as far as Olafur Eliasson has in his new exhibition Life, which debuted this month at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland. For this show Eliasson removed the glass façade of the museum and flooded the building with a bright green primordial soup of water and plants. He also did away with normal museum hours and visiting protocols; the show can be accessed at any time of day or night and other species, such as insects, bats, and birds from the surrounding park, are welcome.
“In recent years, I have increasingly grown interested in efforts to consider life not from a human-centric perspective but from a broad, biocentric perspective,” Eliasson writes in a statement that accompanies the show. “Together with the museum, I am giving up control over the artwork, so to speak, handing it over to human and non-human visitors, to plants, microorganisms, the weather, the climate–many of these elements that museums usually work very hard to keep out. Instead, we are trying to welcome everyone and everything in.”
As radical as it is, the work has precedents in earlier nature-culture installations by Eliasson—including Green River, for which he tinted the waterways of six different cities with the same non-toxic uranine dye he is using in Life, and Riverbed, for which he introduced stones and water to a wing of Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
If you’re not able to visit in person (or by insect, bird, or bat wing), any being with an internet connection can explore the show from multiple angles in a special livestream.