On the 24th of October, 2022, Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist, presented his public art installation “Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day”, which he created collaborating with Qatar Museums. Situated in the north of Doha, Qatar, near Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, the artwork includes 20 circular shelters supported by half rings made of steel. These semi-circular supports are reflected in the mirrored undersides of the discs, and full circles are formed.
At the centre of the installation, the 10 covered shelters are arranged to form a five-pointed star; it is a reference to the medieval Islamic patterns. Other structures comprised two interconnected rings or single rings fixed to the ground. They are placed according to the axes of fivefold symmetry.
The large mirrors which serve as ceilings reflect a viewer themselves and a sandy landscape with traces of desert flora and fauna: one looks up and sees themselves surrounded by nature. This way Eliasson invites viewers to contemplate their connection to the ground. He makes them pay close attention to the beauty of the surrounding environment — it is his contribution to raising awareness regarding ecological issues.
Explaining his choice of the installation’s name “Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day”, Eliasson says that the artwork creates “a sea of interconnections” between viewers and the landscape. “The mirrors connect and perfect what is physically distinct and partial, linking the actual surroundings with the reflected space […]”, he says.
Olafur Eliasson (born in 1967 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is an Icelandic–Danish multidisciplinary artist who uses such unconventional materials as light, water, and air temperature to create his immersive installations. Although he is best known for his installation art, his practice also includes sculpture, painting, photography, and film. A lot of Eliasson’s artworks’ aim is to draw attention to the environmental problems we are currently facing.
In 1995, Eliasson graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Art and relocated to Berlin where he established Studio Olafur Eliasson conducting spatial research. From 2009 to 2014, the artist worked as a professor at the Berlin University of the Arts; since 2014, he is an adjunct professor at the Alle School of Fine Arts and Design, Addis Ababa.
Eliasson has received many awards including a Crystal Award (2016), The New York City Waterfalls, Ice Watch, Riverbed, The Weather Projects, the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT (2014); the Wolf Prize in Painting and Sculpture (2014); and others. The artist’s work has been featured in numerous public and private collections all over the world, which include the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Art Institute of Chicago; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and many others.
To learn more about the art installation, please visit Olafur Eliasson’s official website.
You may be also interested in visiting the exhibition “Your Brain to Me, My Brain to You” at National Museum of Qatar.