In a windowless pavilion a thin horizontal line directed through a narrow gap at eye level serves as the primary light source. The light is constantly changing colors and rotates through the color spectrum every few minutes. The light installation was calibrated to the specific light conditions of Venice. While Your activity horizon tried to capture the northern light of Iceland, Your black horizon seizes the Mediterranean light of the laguna. Accurate light recordings have been taken from sunrise to sunset to study the spectrum of light and its intensity.
Your black horizon, a work commissioned from Olafur Eliasson for the Venice Biennale by the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Foundation is an example of the artist’s interest in the phenomenon of light, color, geometry, perception, movement, and space. It is placed in a temporary pavilion, whose form and appearance has been designed in close collaboration with the London based architect David Adjaye. It constitutes the final and most far-out point of Rosa Martinez’ finely choreographed exhibition, while also looking to the much larger manifestation of a horizon line, the zone of interference where heaven and earth meet .
Olafur Eliasson nudges the viewer into a perceptual awareness, as the pavilion is completely cleared out of any visual distractions leaving the pure intensity of the changing horizon line that surrounds. The distance that the viewers feel whenever he sees the line separating earth and heaven is foremost a temporal phenomenon by which one develops their own subjective imagination of space and time. Perception of time is realized through perception of space, and vice versa.
It is this point exactly where the titles of Eliasson’s works are effective, as they clearly address viewers and hint at the subjectivity of color and light perception. In Your black horizon the viewer is conscious of their own phenomenological status while experiencing contacts created by the light in its shift from architecture to viewer and its simultaneous demarcation of the pavilion’s frontiers.
By any means, the viewer becomes activated in an artistic process, which induces an awareness of one’s own presence and perception. As Eliasson states, "If the public gets involved in a stimulating situation, the situation 'commits itself' in return. There’s a reversal of subject and object here: the viewer becomes the object and the context becomes the subject. I always try to turn the viewer into what’s on show, make him mobile and dynamic." (1)
(1) Olafur Eliasson, Conversation between Olafur Eliasson and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Berlin, October 2001. Musée d’Art Moderne de la Vile de Paris, exhibition catalogue, 2002.
DURATION: June 12 - November 6, 2005
LOCATION: Island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni, Venice
Commissioned by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary
on occasion of the 51st Biennal of Visual Arts, Venice