Olafur Eliasson’s Riverbed

Riverbed / Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

The Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark is considered a milestone of modern Danish design, noted for its synthesis of art, architecture, and landscape. Now, a new exhibition from artist Olafur Eliasson seeks to blur these boundaries even further with Riverbed, an exhibition that transforms “the entire South Wing into a rocky landscape.”

Riverbed is what it sounds like: a rocky riverbed, complete with stones, soil, and a narrow waterway meandering through the middle, laid down inside the museum walls.

Riverbed / Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Described as “stress-test of Louisiana’s physical capacity,” the installation also directly refers to the site’s history. In 1982, the museum added the south wing on a slope, which had once been home to a sculpture garden. “Like many of the exhibitions presented throughout his creative career,” writes Designboom, “Eliasson’s Riverbed is site-specific, engaging with the cultural institution’s unique identity, thematically linking the artworks and gallery as a place.”

Riverbed / Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Design blog The Fox is Black describes Riverbed as “a surreal and beautiful sight. Visitors are encouraged to walk on the rocky surfaces, and spaces are entered through semi-submerged gallery doorways. I think it looks terrific and I can only imagine how wonderful it must be to hear the trickle of water running through the small galleries of the Museum.”

Riverbed / Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Beyond the sensory pleasure, the exhibition questions the meaning and experience of the museum itself, writes Arch Daily. “Both grand and humble, the installation overturns expectations of the role of museum-goer and dances between definitions of observer and participant . . . Avoiding traditional expectations of behavior and thought associated with museums, Eliasson strips away superficial information through the emptiness of the landscape. There is nothing on the walls, and there is no expected way to act within or experience the space, allowing for freedom of reflection, thought, sensory experience, and sense of self.”

The exhibition opens August 20 and runs through April 2015, alongside Model Room, a collaboration with Eliasson and Icelandic artist Einar Thorsteinn, and three video screenings in the main hall.

Yoshi Silverstein is the ASLA 2014 communications intern. He is a Masters in Landscape Architecture candidate at the University of Maryland. He focuses on landscape experience and outdoor learning environments.

One thought on “Olafur Eliasson’s Riverbed

  1. R. Gus Drum 09/03/2014 / 9:29 am

    Great exhibit emphasizing the role and beauty of water in the landscape. Looks like glacial outwash terrain. Does the museum need to purchase flood insurance while the exhibit is running🙂

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