Olafur Eliasson: Your colour memory

September 1, 2004–January 9, 2005
Arcadia University Art Gallery

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Arcadia University Art Gallery is pleased to present "Your colour memory," a new project by Berlin-based, Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. On view starting September 1, 2004 through January 9, 2005, the work will be introduced by Eliasson with a lecture on September 13, 2004 at 6:30 PM in Stiteler Auditorium followed by a public reception on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 from 5:30-7:30 PM in the Gallery. Both events are free and open to the public.

Installation view, "Olafur Eliasson: Your colour memory," 2005, Arcadia University Art Gallery, photo: Greenhouse Media

Surrounding the spectator with a continually changing spectrum of tinted light, "Your colour memory" offers viewers an unprecedented way to exercise the experience of their own retinal afterimages. Elegantly advancing Eliasson’s evolving exploration of subjectivity, perception, and the fluid border between nature and culture, this new project builds on earlier, large-scale works employing luminous color. "The Curious Garden," Eliasson’s 1997 exhibition for the Kunsthalle Basel, for example, included a room bathed in a single wavelength of yellow light that reduced viewers’ color vision to a duotone scale ranging from yellow to black. For his "Room for all colours," (the De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam, 1999), light from a grid of lamps—tinted red, green, and blue and controlled by a computerized dimmer—was mixed and diffused by a floor-to-ceiling translucent screen to demonstrate a gradual, chromatic progression over the course of each day. His 360° room for all colours (Musee d’art moderne de la ville, Paris, 2002) used the same color-mixing technology to envelope viewers within a cylinder of morphing spectral hues. "Your colour memory" distinguishes itself from these previous projects by making a discrete subject of the afterimage, an optical phenomena, like the rainbow—which Eliasson re-created for his 1994 work Beauty—that is among the most telling examples of the subjectivity of vision.

"Your colour memory" is among several exhibitions of Eliasson’s work currently on view in the United States, including “Olafur Eliasson: Photographs” at the Menil Collection, Houston (through September 5, 2004) and “I only see things when they move,” at the Aspen Art Museum (through October 3, 2004). His work is represented in numerous, international public and private collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Deste Foundation, Athens; and the Tate, London.

In addition to Eliasson's lecture, other programming includes a lecture by neurologist and best-selling author, Dr. Oliver Sacks, on the topic of vision and the brain scheduled for October 26, 2004 at 7:30 PM. London-based artist/writer David Batchelor will lecture on his recent book Chromophobia, an in-depth analysis of our cultural fear of color, on Thursday, October 28, 2004 at 7:30 PM in Stiteler Auditorium.

This project has been funded by the Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, a granting program of The Pew Charitable Trusts, administered by The University of the Arts. Additional support has been provided the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Zumtobel Staff, and the Friends and Advisory Board of Arcadia University Art Gallery. The lecture by Dr. Sacks is sponsored and funded by the Arcadia University Distinguished Lecture Series, with additional support from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Consortium for higher Education (SEPCHE).


Born in Copenhagen in 1967, Eliasson attended the Royal Academy of Arts from 1989 to 1995. He quickly took his place on the international art circuit with a series of solo exhibitions at major institutions including: Kunsthalle, Basel (1997); De Appel Foundation, Amsterdam (1999); Kunstverein, Wolfsburg (1999); the Art Institute of Chicago (2000); Neue Galerie, Graz (2000); Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM), Karlsruhe (2001); ICA, Boston (2001); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (Projectseries 2002); ARC/Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2002); and Reina Sofia, Madrid (2003).

Addressing Eliasson’s cross-disciplinary practice in his new volume of interviews, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist reminds us that Eliasson is “first and foremost interested in looking at the way we see and experience things,” a critical, self-conscious mode of attention the artist refers to as “seeing yourself seeing.” “Using simple devices like mirrors, holes, and optical matters to affect the spectator’s vision,” Obrist continues, “Eliasson attempts to reproduce such ephemeral phenomena as fog, ice, and rainbows inside galleries and museum settings. In order to challenge viewers in a situation in which they reflect on their modes of thought and behavior towards these natural phenomena, Eliasson has recreated the sparkling quality of rain by illuminating a waterfall with stroboscopic lights (Your strange certainty still kept, 1996); caused a cool breeze to blow (Your windless arrangement, 1999); created a solar eclipse (No nights in summer; no days in winter, 1994); and traced luminous rings in water (Neon Ripple, 2001).” For The Weather Project (2003), Eliasson’s widely acclaimed work for the Tate Modern (London), he reproduced the appearance of the setting sun inside the vast, five-story space of the Turbine Hall. The Blind Pavilion—Eliasson’s fun-house-like sequence of individual chambers, including a kaleidoscopic grotto, a tabletop camera obscura projection, and a rooftop periscope—represented Denmark in the 2003 Venice Biennale.