Olafur Eliasson: VOLCANOES AND SHELTERS: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

October 25 - December 22, 2012
Installation Views
Press release

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is very pleased to present Volcanoes and shelters, an exhibition of remarkable new landscape photography and installation by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson.

Throughout the past two decades, Eliasson has used installation, painting, photography, film and projects in public spaces as tools to explore the cognitive and cultural conditions that inform our perception. From immersive environments of color, light and movement to installations that recontextualize natural phenomena, his work defies notions of art as an autonomous object, and instead positions itself as part of an exchange with the actively engaged viewer and his or her sensorial and individualized experience. Described by the artist as “devices for the experience of reality,” his works and public projects prompt a greater sense of awareness among their users regarding the ways in which they both interpret and engage with the world.

During his regular trips to Iceland, Eliasson has over the years created series of photographs documenting the country’s unique landscape. In the broader context of his practice, photography continues to be a vital part of his conceptual inquiry as he elaborates on the seeing and sensing processes, examining perceptions of time, space and movement as both cultural constructions and natural phenomena.


As part of the artist’s seventh solo exhibition at the gallery, Eliasson will show three new composite series from his journeys to Iceland over the past two years. Presented in precise grid formations throughout the main gallery space, each project consists of dozens of photographs that focus on a particular element of the country’s landscape. In his largest series of sixty-three photographs along the far gallery wall, Eliasson presents a small encyclopedia of Iceland’s major volcanic craters. Evidence of the island’s location along a tectonic plate boundary, volcanoes have always been a significant part of the country’s geological landscape, history and cultural identity. For Eliasson, however, they represent vents for the earth, thresholds that make the earth’s interior explicit.

In the neighboring Hot spring series (2012), the artist probes perceptions of distance and volume through shifting scales. This project documents forty-eight of the country’s geothermal hot springs, an iconic part of Iceland’s terrain and substantial source of natural energy. Similar to The volcano series (2012), Eliasson chooses to photograph the landscape from varying distances, using his movement to play with notions of scale and range, and demonstrate their relativity. Within his individual frames, even the smallest hot spring as narrow as two feet wide appears comparable in size to the nearby craters. Through these shifting perspectives, these photographs project a new way of seeing and perceiving, one that is both dynamic and negotiable.

All installation images above: Photo by Jean Vong