Olafur Eliasson has a very unmemorable name, but even if you don't recognise the name you probably know the guy. Remember when there was a large sun peering through mist in the turbine hall at the Tate Modern? That was him.
Anyway, he is back at the Tate Modern until 5 January 2020. I have been twice. The first time I went it was a Sunday near the start of the exhibition and it was incredibly crowded. I've never seen an art show so busy. Many of the visitors were families. I got halfway round then retreated. I returned recently on a cold Tuesday. It was substantially calmer. The first room is a large selection of his concept models. It is always interesting to see somebody's working and on a smaller scale of the work you then experience. Sadly the exhibition has now finished so you will have to take my word for it.
It took me a while to figure out what the show was. It's a fairground ride. A high-spec, colourful, interesting and almost spiritual fairground ride, complete with misty tunnel, hall of mirrors, dark room and light effects, such as the one above where you are back-lit and your shadow displayed in a number of different colours. But we are leaping ahead.
It is worthwhile having a careful look around. The first room contains a very impressive tactile wall of moss-like substance covering all of one wall. On the floor are four different-sized, both in length and width, tanks full of water with wave machines. They generate waves of different frequency and it is fun watching them join and destroy each other. These easily distract you and it is easy to miss things, for example the rain machine dripping onto one of the windows.
In the next room you see a convex mirror displaying an upside-down distorted view of the room you have just left, and this is what I mean about it being a high-spec fairground. You then have to queue to go down a long misty tunnel. You can barely see more than about an arms’ length in front of you and different coloured lights mean the mist changes from orange to white and yellow as you gently parade down it. I understand that you are legally allowed to murder anyone who has stopped to take a selfie while in the tunnel (there were lots, there are less now). You emerge slightly baffled to find a large sci-fiesque cylinder, which you can walk inside of. It is bedecked with mirrors that reflect and distort you.
The next room has a series of light displays and then also the light effect you can see at the top of this blog post, which splits your shadow into a number of different colours.
My favourite thing in the whole show though was in a very dark room. Sudden flashes of light reveal an ever-changing sculpture on top of a plinth. It shifts from looking like a pac-man ghost, to a flattened kraken and other weird shapes. It is in fact the thing pictured above. It is a fountain, and the flashes of light catch it in different shapes and imprint it onto your brain. I thought this was excellent and stayed there for quite a while enjoying it all.
The final room contained a very pretentious and wordy wall taking the alphabet and exploring environmental themes. A large round table contains a construction set, hundreds and hundreds of different pieces that you can assemble and possibly, if you were minded, create a shape like the above. That was great fun. The exhibition continues outside where the ball-like device is. There was a display that I have seen before where yellow polarising light, here set up in a hall way and in the lifts, made everything appear black and white.
It was a great show. I enjoyed it.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.