Saturday, April 10, 2010

Olafur Eliasson and Ma Yansong at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

Olafur Eliasson and Ma Yansong at Ullens Center for Contemporary Art

Olafur Eliasson, "Your Atmospheric Colour Atlas", 2009. Courtesy the artist: Gallery Koyanagi, Tokyo. Photo: Studio Olafur Eliasson. ©2009 Olafur Eliasson.

BEIJING.- The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) presents the exhibition "Feelings are Facts", from 3 April to 20 June 2010, fruit of the first collaboration between Olafur Eliasson, the Danish-Icelandic artist, and Ma Yansong, one of the most prolific Chinese architects. Together the artists have created an installation specially conceived for the of UCCA’s Big Hall, uniting architecture, light and fog.

Eliasson is known for his exploration of human perception, and he often works with light, shadows, color, water, wind, or fog to create a specific environment in order to move us to think about our experience of our surroundings – perceptions we usually take to be self-evident. Ma's architecture stands at the forefront of new experimentation in building structures, refashioning form in bold pursuits of perfection.

Their collaboration invites the audience to enter an endless space of fog, with color emanating from fluorescent tubes of red, green and blue. By moving through the space, the colors blend, and so the viewers will endlessly create their own color spectrums.

In Feelings are facts, Olafur Eliasson and Ma Yansong challenge our everyday patterns of spatial orientation, thereby suggesting the need to invent new models for perception. The installation was specially crafted to fit the Big Hall of the UCCA, the dimensions of which were altered by substantially lowering the ceiling and constructing an inclined wooden floor.

“UCCA is proud to present Feelings are facts, an exhibition which catalyzes a dynamic cross-fertilization between art and architecture. The final result is born of a unique collaboration between Eliasson and Ma. This breathtaking installation promises to transport the viewer on a journey which reverses his normal art experience. Here the spectator, rather than simply viewing an art object from the outside, surprisingly witnesses himself becoming an integral part of the artwork. The viewer enters a world of extra-sensorial perception whereby color, light and architecture enable him to re-evaluate his relationship with his surroundings,” says UCCA Director, Jérôme Sans.

Basing this project on a series of previous experiments with atmospheric density, Eliasson introduces condensed banks of artificially produced fog into the gallery. Hundreds of fluorescent lights are installed in the ceiling as a grid of red, green, and blue zones. By permeating the fog, these lights create colored walk-through spaces that, in Eliasson’s words, function to ‘make the volume of the space explicit’. The colored zones introduce a scale of measurement in the gallery, their varying size and organization referencing urban-planning grids. At each color boundary, two hues blend to create transitional slivers of cyan, magenta, or yellow, and so the visitors will create their own unique color spectrum when making their way through this seemingly endless space. The artists use this structural marvel to present inquiries into the nature of reality. What should be the basis of our thinking and judgement in a space where reality and illusion interconnect? As we stand amidst such accomplished phenomena, can we re-examine with greater concern our sensations and experiences of that which is around us?

Olafur Eliasson is a Danish-Icelandic artist living in Copenhagen and Berlin. Upon completing his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1995, Eliasson established Studio Olafur Eliasson in Berlin. His Berlin studio today numbers around thirty craftsmen, architects, geometrists, art historians, and other cultural workers. In his studio, he deploys light, colour, and natural phenomena such as fog and waves to test how physical movement, sensual engagement, and the interaction of body and brain influence our perception of our environment. Eliasson represented Denmark at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003 and later that year installed The Weather Project in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London. In 2006, on the occasion of the reopening of Palazzo Grassi, Venice, Eliasson realised a special commission for the façade on the Grand Canal: Your Wave is. Take your time, a survey exhibition organised by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 2007, travelled to several venues in the United States and is currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Eliasson has engaged in a wide array of public space projects, including the Flower pavilion, as part of the 5th Shenzhen International Public Art Exhibition in Shenzhen, 2003, the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2007 in London, designed with Kjetil Thorsen; and The New York City Waterfalls, commissioned by Public Art Fund in 2008. As professor at Universität der Künste Berlin, Eliasson also founded the Institut für Raumexperimente in 2009, a public educational research project affiliated with the College of Fine Arts at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK). Feelings are facts is the first time Eliasson has worked with Chinese architect Ma Yansong and is his first exhibition in China.

Ma Yansong, originally from Beijing, received his Master of Architecture from the Yale University School of Architecture in 2002. Prior to founding MAD in 2004, Ma worked as a project designer with Zaha Hadid Architects in London and Eisenman Architects in New York. He has taught architecture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. His works have won numerous international design competitions, including: the 2006 Absolute Tower Competition in Toronto which is under construction and scheduled to complete in 2011. Ma’s work has been exhibited internationally. Two of his projects WTC Rebuilt – "Floating Island" and "Fish tank" were featured at the Beijing Architectural Biennale and the National Art Museum of China in 2004.

His art installation "Ink Ice" was featured in the Chinese Calligraphy Art exhibition in 2005. In 2006, "MAD" was shown at the "MAD" in China exhibition in Venice during the 10th Architecture Biennial, and the "MAD" Under-Construction exhibition at the Tokyo Gallery in Beijing. In 2007, "MAD" in China, a floating city of MAD's work, was shown at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen, Denmark. MAD’s concept proposal, "Super Star-A Mobile China Town" was on exhibition in the Uneternal City of the 11th Architecture Biennale in Venice. In 2009, MAD was featured in the exhibition, "Heart-Made, The Cutting-Edge of Chinese Contemporary Architecture in Brussels", for the Europalia-China.

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