Chateau of Versailles is the new site for experimentation by internationally acclaimed visual artist, Olafur Eliasson. Eliasson’s work is a constant investigation of perception, movement, embodied experience, and feelings of self. The same holds true for his latest project at Versailles where the pieces are not merely intended to be installed objects but also apparatuses that engage the visitor in an active relationship.
Born in Denmark, Olafur Eliasson has created a body of sculptural and photographic work in which questions of perception, movement, and the depiction of reality through optical devices intersect with a sensitive, ecological approach to nature and the great debates currently facing our industrial society over the course of past 25 years. Eliasson excels in the creation of visual phenomena that establish a new perspective on space. After having reinvented the setting sun in the immense Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern (The weather project, 2003), installed gigantic waterfalls in New York City (The New York City Waterfalls, 2008) and added a new star to the Stockholm sky (Your Star, 2015), he brings his vision to France by reinterpreting Versailles.
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“I am thrilled to be working with an iconic site like Versailles. As the palace and its gardens are so rich in history and meaning, in politics, dreams, and visions, it is an exciting challenge to create an artistic intervention that shifts visitors’ feeling of the place and offers a contemporary perspective on its strong tradition. I consider art to be a co-producer of reality, of our sense of now, society, and global togetherness. It is truly inspiring to have the opportunity to co-produce through art today’s perception of Versailles”, explains Olifur Eliasson.
Each of the pieces exhibited at Versailles has been conceived for the particular spaces in which it is exhibited. The outdoor installations that dominate the classical gardens of Versailles form a triptych with water as their common theme. The waterfall installed in the Grand Canal is positioned along the central axis of the garden, while the two bosquets (l’Etoile [the Star] and la Colonnade) reaffirm their role as open-air salons, with one housing a circular veil of fine fog, the other a carpet of glacial residue.
“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”, says Catherine Pegard, President of the Château de Versailles.
The Gaze inside the Château
Inside the château, the gaze becomes the centre of attention through a set of successive mirrors and mises en abyme. The furnishings of the rooms, while remaining unchanged, are amplified through a multiplication of points of view. Visitors are surprised to discover their own reflections in unexpected locations, and the rooms seem larger and transformed. The baroque architecture of the palace served to heighten visibility, and the artist utilises the fluidity of the baroque surroundings to construct another reality through displacements and destabilisation. As a result of this modified perception of the rooms, the visitors become active participants in the reality that surrounds them.
Where: Château de Versailles
Dates: June 7, 2016 to October 30, 2016
Timings: In the Château: Every day except Monday, 9 am to 6.30 pm. Normal visiting conditions, no additional charge to the château ticket for the exhibition. In the Gardens: Every day from 8 am to 8.30 pm, free entry, except on days of the Musical Fountain Shows and Musical Gardens (from 9 am to 6.30 pm). Please check the event website for detailed timings.
More information: Visit Château de Versailles’s website