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Nordic Film Festival: Olafur Eliasson Space is Process
Thursday 6 December 2012, by
OLAFUR ELIASSON: SPACE IS PROCESS
Jacob Jørgensen/Henrik Lundø; Denmark 2010; 76 mins; UK Premiere
Space is Process is a documentary that follows Olafur Eliasson in the time leading up to the realisation of his Waterfalls intstallations along the Hudson River and his retrospective exhibition at the MOMA in New York. Throughout we see his process and get to experience his art through his philosophies about space. “What is it that makes space productive?” he asks us and what we receive is not so much an answer but a series of reflections on his art and practice.
Even the form of the film itself engages with his ideas – the viewer is frequently encouraged to explore their special interaction with the screen. As with much of Eliasson’s artwork we become part of the art itself. This is the first film I have been to where I have been instructed to look away from the screen and experience the space around me in relation to the light from the screen. It all ties back to his philosophy of how we interact with the world and is a beautifully practical way for the audience to experience this.
The documentary gives insight into the artistic process of Eliasson, his workshops and his methods. Like many artists, Eliasson works with teams of people, all contributing to the project but he is very hands on and involved every step of the way. There is no doubt he is invested in his art – as we watch him winched over holes on a glacier it becomes impossible to disassociate him from any of it, regardless of his collaborators.
For one so clearly engaged and responsive to art, this artist is quite reserved about forcing his opinion and interpretation on his public, he argues that his work is “open and inclusive” and to impose a meaning would restrict the potential options for engaging with the art. Eliasson himself is incredibly charismatic. He demonstrates an incredible drive and commitment to his practice but this is tempered with good humour and the cheeky grin of someone who still can’t quite believe he is able create what he does.
At points there could be arguments for a more focused direction and structure of this film. It leaps about a bit in time, content and form. However, process is by its very nature not necessarily clean, precise and beautifully finished and so the style actually works well for the subject and isn’t too distracting. After all uniting it all is Eliasson. This film seeks to provoke thoughts about art, space and process and it does achieve all of this, but what it ultimately produces is an intriguing and intimate portrait of the artist himself.
This film was screened as part of the inaugural Nordic Film Festival.