Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has unveiled two large-scale water installations at the Château de Versailles in France. Eliasson may be best known for his Weather Project (2003) in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern, London and his four large-scale stainless steel artificial waterfalls that were installed on the shorelines of Manhattan and Brooklyn in 2008.
Eight years on, and Eliasson is still working with artificial waterfalls. This time his similarly-sized stainless steel project in Versailles, along with a series of site-specific works, aim to reflect on the effects of climate change.
Using a construction crane, Eliasson allows water to crash down into the basin of the Grand Canal at the Palace of Versailles. The piece is titled Waterfall and the crane is positioned in such a way that on June 21, the cascade of water will obscure the sun, creating a shimmering array of light from certain perspectives.
“Historically, the royal court at Versailles was a place of constant observation - of oneself and of others; the strict social norms of the time were enforced through a web of gazes,” said Eliasson in a press release. “I ask myself: how do you, the visitor, view this iconic site? What does it do to you? Have we all become king?”
Overall, the installations seek to facilitate introspective experiences, with visitors questioning whether they are in Eliasson’s words, “consuming or producing the experience.” “The works outdoors and indoors address the need to offer the opportunity for everyone to become an explorer, not just a king or queen,” he added.
“With Olafur Eliasson, stars collide, the horizon slips away, and our perception blurs. The man who plays with light will make the contours of the Sun-King’s palace dance,” said Catherine Pegard, President of the Château de Versailles.
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images: Anders Sune Berg