Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life Exhibit sheds light on climate crisis


Helen Roth

“Your uncertain shadow (colour)” display at Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life Exhibit.

Helen Roth, Features Editor: Online

Incorporating metal, mirrors, water, and Lego into one exhibition seems to be far from a typical art installation. Yet, nestled in the famous Tate Modern, “the Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life” exhibit fuses these everyday materials into a captivating display. 

Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson expresses his three interests in Icelandic nature, geometry, and human perception through media such as photographs, sculptures, and interactive presentations.

Eliasson uses earthly elements of life in his work, such as earth and fire, to portray his love and concern for the world. When walking through the exhibit, I gained a greater appreciation for our world, but it also made me reflect on the danger our planet is in due to the escalation of global warming.

Eliasson sparked this emotion in so many ways. His time in Iceland enabled him to witness the effects of global warming first-hand, and he presented this experience through photography. These photographs depicted glaciers that began to melt as time went on, and brought me to a feeling of uncertainty and sadness about the future.

Helen Roth
“The glacier series,” display at Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life.

Though, this feeling did not stop there. In each of the displays, Eliasson triggered the same appreciation and concern for our world. It would not do this exhibition justice if I did not mention Beauty, perhaps the most phenomenal of all the displays. 

When I was walking into one of the many exhibit rooms, a soft hiss activated my hearing and initiated a sense of curiosity as to what was on the other side of the door. After walking in, I was greeted by a sheet of mist, faintly glowing with swirls of light pink and soft yellow. 

Helen Roth
“Beauty,” display at the Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life exhibit.

I remember looking around me, seeing people who – just like me – were almost hypnotized by the display. Using water, one of the fundamental components of life, as his only material of the display shed light on the beauty of earth, but was soon coupled with a feeling of anger, as it would be awful to lose earth’s natural scenes due to the climate crisis.

That’s the power of his art. The simple beauty of Eliasson’s work provokes reflectiveness and peace, right in the heart of the busy city. It’s truly something you cannot miss. 

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life is on display until Jan. 5, 2020. All it requires is a trip on the tube to Southwark Station, followed by a 10-minute walk to the Tate Modern.