Olafur Eliasson: Your unexpected encounter (Senin beklenmedik karşılaşman): Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turkey

June 7, 2024 - February 9, 2025
Installation Views
Press release

Istanbul Modern is hosting a comprehensive selection of works from the 30-year career of the Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson, whose projects have garnered worldwide acclaim. Opening June 7, ”Olafur Eliasson: Your unexpected encounter (Senin beklenmedik karşılaşman)" is the artist's first solo exhibition in Turkey. The exhibition offers an opportunity to explore the artist's practice and the themes central to it. Curated by Öykü Özsoy Sağnak, Nilay Dursun, and Ümit Mesci from the museum's curatorial team, the exhibition focuses on water, light, color, perception, movement, geometry, and the environment.

Eliasson emphasizes that his works are only complete when viewers engage with them and considers this active participation to be an important component of his work. Through the audience’s dynamic process of discovery, the phenomena Eliasson presents—whether in varied contexts or scales—frequently results in unique experiences.

“Your unexpected encounter (Senin beklenmedik karşılaşman)
The exhibition begins with the permanent installation "Your unexpected journey," designed by the artist specifically for Istanbul Modern’s new building. Located in the stairway, the work’s reflective circular surfaces, juxtaposed against the building’s right angles, create the possibility of continuously evolving encounters as viewers move up and down the stairs.

Eliasson’s works in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery on the second floor of the museum showcase the artist's deep and longstanding interest in perception, color, light, and geometry, as well as his ongoing engagement with environmental topics. Although the artworks, which include installations, sculptures, and photographs, are grouped thematically in the exhibition, the artist engages with multiple subjects and concepts, elucidating the relationships and permeabilities between different disciplines.

Created specifically for the exhibition, "Dusk to dawn, Bosporus," connects viewers to the museum site, bringing the changing colors of the Bosphorus into the gallery space. The work, which includes hand-blown glass panels stacked on driftwood, combines Eliasson's interest in the natural properties of color, light, and water. It provides a preview of other color experiments that arrive later in the exhibit.

The site-specific work "Sunset kaleidoscope" continues to traverse the boundaries between inside and outside. Looking out to the Bosphorus, the view is transformed by movement, bringing a unique narrative of the history of the city and the contemporary space within the exhibition.
Light and its ephemeral properties stand out as prominent subjects in the exhibition. Lenses, reflective surfaces, projections, colored glass, and kaleidoscopes featured in Eliasson's works allow the artist to conduct experiments with perception, space, and geometry.

Forming part of the artist’s ongoing "Colour experiments" series, the artist's watercolor works are formed around the basis of developing a new color theory and reflect his productions on the axis of water, environment, and color.

Eliasson’s career-long investigation into how we perceive and co-create our environments is further explored with a number of artworks that address the climate crisis. The photo series “The glacier melt series 1999/2019” demonstrates the striking rate at which Iceland’s glaciers are retreating, while also connecting Istanbul with Iceland—a country which is formative to Eliasson’s practice.





Installation view: Olafur Eliasson: Your unexpected encounter (Senin beklenmedik karşılaşman), Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Türkiye.
Photo: Kayhan Kaygusuz, © 2005 Olafur Eliasson