Olafur Eliasson’s “Riverbed” Converts a Museum into a Natural Landscape
Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, known for his large-scale installations employing elemental materials like light, water, earth, and even atmosphere, transformed an entire wing of Denmark’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art into a riverbed for his first solo exhibition. The work, which uses rocks, soil, and running water to precisely emulate a natural landscape, stands in stark contrast to the white walls of one of Denmark’s most important Modernist buildings. Originally designed in 1958 by architects Jørgen Bo and Wilhlem Wohlert, the Louisiana’s staggered, irregularly sized portals create an experience that highlights movement through space. By filling the Louisiana with a landscape its galleries might have replaced, Eliasson heightens the haptic qualities of this experience and points to the reality of the museum as an institution and a physical locality. The work raises the question of how natural and built environments might intersect, though it is up to the viewer to decide whether this tension is constructive or destructive.