Palace of versailles

olafur eliasson invests the palace of versailles

For eight years, the Palace of Versailles has hosted a series of exhibitions which see internationally renowned artists interacting between their own work and the architecture of the French monument. this summer, olafur eliasson brings a sequence of spatial interventions to versailles — with waterfalls, fog, mirrors and luminous landscapes installed around the gardens and inside the castle. ‘the Versailles that I dreamed of is a place that empowers everyone,’ Eliasson said. ‘it invites visitors to take control of the authorship of their experience instead of simply consuming and being dazzled by the grandeur. he asks them to exercise their senses, to embrace the unexpected, to drift through the gardens and feel the landscape take shape through their movement.

olafur eliasson versailles
view of the ‘cascade’ of the castle of versailles
all pictures of anders sunberg
all images courtesy of the artist, neugerriemschneider, berlin; tanya bonakdar gallery, new york © olafur eliasson

the exhibition is organized in two parts: a series of outdoor works located around the picturesque park and pieces placed in the richly decorated palace. in the gardens, three monumental installations deal with various states of water — fluid, fog and absence, materialized by the flour of glacial rock. olafur eliasson continues one of the most significant projects of his work with a new “waterfall” erected in the Grand Canal. placed on the central axis of the garden, this latest iteration sees a surge of water rushing down from a rising crane above the landscape.

the installation subtly pays homage to landscape architect andré le notre of louis XIV and his unrealized vision of creating a waterfall in the palace gardens. Expanding on the theme of water, Eliasson’s ‘misty assemblage’ surrounds visitors in a misty landscape, enveloping them in a circular veil of fine mist. at the colonnade, a carpet of glacial residue has been placed in a circular opening in the ground, surrounded by the site’s magnificent thirty-two arches with twenty-eight fountains.

olafur eliasson versailles
fog assembly, 2016
steel, water, nozzles, pump system

“I use fog and water to amplify feelings of impermanence and transformation”, Eliasson said. “the works of art liquefy the formal design of the gardens while reviving one of the original and unrealized visions of landscape architect andré le notre: the placement of a waterfall in the grand canal. this waterfall reinvigorates the engineering ingenuity of the past. it is as constructed as the courtyard was, and I left the construction open to all – a seemingly alien element that expands the reach of human imagination.

olafur eliasson versailles
Installation view of the ‘fog montage’ at the Palace of Versailles

inside the chateau, eliasson has deployed a series of installations that use mirrors and light to activate the space. while the furniture in the rooms remains unchanged, the interiors are highlighted by a multiplication of perspectives created by a succession of mirrors. visitors discover their own thinking in unexpected places, altering the perception of the pieces and inviting them to become active participants in the reality around them.

olafur eliasson versailles
‘assembly of fog’ surrounds visitors in a misty landscape

the exhibition is accompanied by the book ‘olafur eliasson versailles‘, a feature film born of a dialogue between eliasson and the graphic designer irma boom. the edition is printed on three different types of paper with different colors for each type of paper: black, gray and white. these color/paper combinations add visual uncertainties to the pages, enticing viewers to take a closer look at the images on each board. in addition, a special series of abstract drawings by eliasson react to instructions written by louis XIV for visiting the gardens of versailles.

olafur eliasson versailles
fog and water amplify the feeling of impermanence and transition

olafur eliasson versailles
from inside the palace, the “waterfall” can be seen along the axis of the grand canal

olafur eliasson versailles
your sense of unity, 2016
mirror sheet, brass, LED lights, wood, paint (black), steel, plastic, control unit

olafur eliasson versailles
the spatial interventions inside the palace are activated by mirrors and light

olafur eliasson versailles
installation view of ‘your sense of unity’ at the palace of versailles

olafur eliasson versailles
deep mirror (yellow) and deep mirror (black), 2016
mirrors, monofrequency light, aluminium, steel, wood, paint (black, white), control unit

olafur eliasson versailles
deep mirror (yellow), 2016

olafur eliasson versailles
installation view of the ‘deep mirror (yellow)’ in the palace

olafur eliasson versailles
the curious museum, 2010
mirror, scaffolding, steel, aluminum

olafur eliasson versailles
‘the curious museum’ reflects the interior of the palace on itself

olafur eliasson versailles
glacial rock flour garden, 2016

olafur eliasson versailles
the facility includes fine-grained rock particles

Nina Azzarello I conceive

June 06, 2016