Contract - July 2009 - (Page 44)

essay on the landscape Artist Olafur Eliasson learns to collaborate with man and nature, as he creates his most noteworthy works By David D’Arcy A look at Olafur Eliasson’s office in Berlin leaves you thinking that the Danish-born artist of Icelandic parents runs an engineering firm. His staff of 40 includes engineers, architects, and art historians devising logistically complicated projects all over the world. Eliasson’s work usually involves the most fundamental of artistic media— water and light—and a scale not accommodated by most museum galleries. Still, museums looking for a challenge and an audience and are vying to exhibit the popular artist’s work. So are major cities. His most ambitious project thus far was The Waterfalls in New York, four cascades that pumped water from the East River to a height of 70 feet and dropped it back down. The main waterfall lay beneath another New York landmark, the Brooklyn Bridge at its foundation in the river near the Brooklyn side. The exhibition (if you can call it that) ran last summer, and was best viewed on a Circle Line cruise that looped from site to site. For New York, which has long turned its back on a magnificent waterfront, using the East River as a medium was a novelty. For a 41-year-old European to construct his own “Fallingwater,” evoking Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1937 masterpiece, it was nothing if not brazen. Tourists came by the boatload. Building anything in New York City is complicated, and the waterfalls were no exception. The idea dated from 2002, said Tom Eccles, then director of the Public Art Fund, which shepherded the project through labyrinthine city construction and environmental regulations. Even on the water and in abandoned shoreline locations, Eliasson’s team had to minimize everything from noise to the salt spray that allegedly threatened nearby structures. Neighbors forced him to cut the operating hours in half. Yet the artist and his most important patron, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, fulfilled each other’s needs. Eliasson achieved a fantasy project on an unprecedented scale. Bloomberg got a threemonth circus, and some $69 million in tourist revenues, on a $15-million investment. The Waterfalls’ success points to a new category oF artistic/architectural work, the grand installation in the grand space. Often the sponsor and beneficiary is a city seeking tourist dollars. And Olafur Eliasson, New York City Waterfalls, 2008, presented by the Public Art Fund, in collaboration with the city of New York (photo by Christopher Burke Studio, 2008; courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York) 44 contract july 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - July 2009

Contract - July 2009
Guest Editorial
Resources: Alpha Workshops
Green Building Goes Global
The Collaborative Workplace
All For Fun
Group Practice
Caring Collaborator
Life is a Circus
Cohesive Spaces in Public Places
On the Landscape
Castles in the Sand
Face to Face
Heart and Soul
Project Management
Dream Team
Ad Index

Contract - July 2009