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Olafur Eliasson Presents A New Participatory Artwork On Earth Day

  • Olafur Eliasson, Earth perspectives, 2020
April 22, 2020
A philosophy graduate interested in critical theory, politics and art. Alias of Jelena Martinović.

An annual event celebrated around the world on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection, Earth Day includes events coordinated globally in more than 193 countries. Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, Earth Day Network seeks to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide, driving positive action for our planet.

To celebrate Earth Day, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson created a new participatory project, inviting people to reflect on the co-existence of the multiple world views. Launched in response to the Serpentine’s 50th anniversary Back to Earth program, the commission invites leading artists, musicians, architects, poets, filmmakers, thinkers and designers to propose artworks and projects that serve as a call to action in response to the climate emergency.

The Earth viewed over the Great Barrier Reef, Australia by Studio Olafur Eliasson

A New Perspective of the Earth

As part of his new participatory project, Olafur Eliasson created a series of nine images of the Earth, each being abstracted by turning the planet on a different axis and each having a particular spot on the Earth marked with a dot.

After staring at a dot for 10 seconds and turning a focus on a blank surface, the afterimage appears in the form of the artist’s visual. This way, the viewer projects a new worldview. The work explores how space, maps and the Earth itself is a construct in a way, seeking to inspire a different perspective in each one of us.

The artist explains that amidst the current health crisis, “we must take the time to empathise with all those struck by the crisis and also seize this opportunity to imagine together the earth that we want to inhabit in the future – in all its wonders and beauty, in the face of all the challenges ahead of us.”

As the artist explains, the perspective of the planet we live on includes not only human one, but also those from plants animals and nature. In order to co-exist, it is important to embrace all these different perspectives.

The Earth viewed over the Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean by Studio Olafur Eliasson

Shaping the World

The first image will be published on April 22nd at 10 BST, followed by other eight posted every hour. The images will also be available for download on the artist’s website, the gallery’s website and the Bloomberg Connects App.

As Hans Ulrich Obrist, Serpentine Galleries Artistic Director and Bettina Korek, Chief Executive, explain, ecology has been an integral part of the gallery’s history, “and very much of our present as we now exist in a society adapting to a world changed by the coronavirus.”

We must look to artists for guidance on how to shape the future and we are honoured that Olafur Eliasson has produced a new work for Back to Earth.

The Earth. viewed over Yakutia, in Siberia, Russia by Studio Olafur Eliasson

Back to Earth

The Serpentine Galleries’ Back to Earth is a long-term project that invites artists to propose artworks, initiatives and campaigns that respond to the environmental crisis. Unfolding over the coming months, it will run throughout the gallery’s programs onsite, offsite and online.

Featured image: Olafur Eliasson, Earth perspectives, 2020. The Earth viewed over the Mariana Trench, Pacific Ocean.