Olafur Eliasson returns to Tate Modern with In Real Life, a major exhibition of his career to date, following his world-renowned installation The Weather Project in 2003. That moment marked a turning point for contemporary art, transforming the iconic Turbine Hall into a social space where sculpture was bound up with the experience of being together with other visitors. In the 16 years since, Eliasson has been celebrated internationally as one of the most exciting artists working today. Now for the first time, UK audiences can discover the full range of his practice spanning three decades. Bringing together around 40 works – almost all of which have never been seen in this country, including some created especially for the exhibition – Olafur Eliasson: In real life offers unmissable experiences and shows how Eliasson brings to our attention some of today’s most urgent issues.

(Olafur Eliasson – Weather Project 2003. Photo: Michael Holland)

Eliasson spent considerable time in Iceland as a child, and natural phenomena such as water, light and mist have been key areas of investigation throughout his career. On the terrace outside Tate Modern, visitors first encounter Waterfall 2019 – a dramatic new installation measuring over 11 metres in height. Inside the exhibition viewers will find Moss wall 1994, a vast plane 20 metres wide entirely covered with Scandinavian reindeer moss; Beauty 1993, which unexpectedly conjures the natural phenomenon of a rainbow inside the exhibition; and Din blinde passager (Your blind passenger) 2010, which offers a visceral journey through a 39-metre-long corridor full of dense fog. Further works in the show address the impact humans have on the environment, including a series of photographs of Iceland’s glaciers taken by the artist in 1999. This will be replaced in the autumn by a new artwork that incorporates the old series alongside photos taken 20 years on, illustrating the changes in this landscape that are happening now.

Eliasson creates works that continually prompt viewers to think about the nature of perception. Many of his installations play with reflections, inversions, after-images and shifting colours, to challenge the way we navigate and perceive our environments. As visitors pass in front of the bright lights of Your uncertain shadow (colour) 2010, they cast unexpected colourful shadows on the wall before them, while the yellow mono-frequency lights used within Room for one colour 1997 reduce viewers’ perception to shades of yellow and black. A selection of the artist’s kaleidoscopic sculptures including Your spiral view 2002 and the newly created Your planetary window 2019, play with light and space to create optical illusions that encourage visitors to see their environment in new ways.

In Real Life is on at Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG from 11 July 2019 – 5 January 2020. Times: Open daily 10.00 – 18.00 and until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday. Admission: £18, £17. Phone: 020 7887 8888


Main Photo: Olafur Eliasson Stardust Particle 2014. Photo: Jens Ziehe Tate Collection