This story was originally published in Architectural Lighting.
On view through Oct. 1 (the museum revised the close date from the originally publicized Oct. 9 date in order to prepare for the upcoming Leonard Cohen exhibition opening November 9)
Oct. 9, at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, “Multiple Shadow House” is artist Olafur Eliasson’s first solo exhibition in Canada. The interactive exhibition features a selection of the artist’s previous works including the “Big Bang Fountain,” 2014, and the “Multiple Shadow House,” 2010.
Eliasson is known for the intangible nature of his immersive works. “The play of light, optical illusions, scientific principles, and weather elements are the key components of his installations,” notes the press release. “Many of his installations guide our attention not only to what we see, but also to the way in which we look, creating what the artist calls situations of ‘seeing yourself seeing,’” said Mark Lanctôt, the exhibition’s curator.
For the exhibition in Montréal, Eliasson uses water and light as the primary elements for creating the installations. The show opens with the “Big Bang Fountain,” 2014, an ephemeral sequential water sculpture created by a series of light flashes from a strobe light. The show then moves into its namesake installation—“Multiple Shadow House”—a room illuminated using several light projectors, each of which cast a range of colors over the so-called “walls,” which are in fact projection screens. The combination of the projected light sources creates a backdrop of white light, and as visitors step into the room and block the light sources, their bodies’ shadows are projected onto the walls.
As Eliasson explains, “When you encounter your own shadow on the wall, it is undeniable evidence of your presence in that space. It is a consequence of your being there. If, however, you find yourself following the shadow instead, unexpected things begin to happen. The shadow asks you to move differently. You become activated, so to speak, by your own shadow, so that it is no longer a consequence of your presence, but rather you are the consequence of the shadow’s presence. In a reversal of perspective and a loosening of the social strictures we have become accustomed to move and navigate within, your shadow suggests actions and movements that are outside of the conventional ways of moving within an exhibition space. If you follow it closely to where it might lead you, you might even start to dance.”
Another artwork, “Your Space Embracer,” 2004, consists of a spotlight that shines a beam of light at a suspended, spinning mirrored ring. As a result, the reflected image moves around the room, embracing the space while the ring’s spinning shadow is cast on the wall facing the spotlight.
The exhibition closes with “Beauty,” 1993, a whimsical installation created by a soft curtain of mist that descends from a beam of light in a blackout room, creating a rainbow effect as the visitors walk through.
Each of these highly interactive installations invites visitors to walk into the artworks, engage, and experience each piece. The presence of the spectator becomes crucial in completing each of the artworks.
“Multiple Shadow House” is on view until Oct. 1
Oct. 9, at the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal.