Olafur Eliasson, ‘Reversed waterfall’, 1998, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

A four-tiered scaffolding, standing in the middle of a pool of water, supports four rectangular metal basins, one on each level. The installation reverses the usual gravitational flow of water with a system of pumps and hoses that shoots jets of water upwards. This unusual waterfall fills its surroundings with moisture and the sound of splashing water, stimulating the auditory and tactile senses of the audience, and perhaps suggesting thoughts about the relationship between human activity and nature.

About Olafur Eliasson

“It is not just about decorating the world… but about taking responsibility,” Olafur Eliasson said of his practice in a 2009 TED Talk. Eliasson uses natural elements (like light, water, fog) and makeshift technical devices to transform museum galleries and public areas into immersive environments. Prompting reflection on the spaces surrounding us, for Green River (1998-2001) he poured bright green (environmentally safe) dye into rivers running through downtown L.A., Stockholm, Tokyo, and other cities to “show the turbulence in these downtown areas” and to remind passersby of the cities’ vitality. Similarly, by installing four large waterfalls in New York’s East River (2008), he intended to give the city a sense of dimension; Eliasson also famously installed a giant artificial sun inside the Tate Modern (The weather project, 2003). Known for their elegant simplicity and lack of materiality, his installations are rooted in a belief that art can create a space sensitive to both individual and collective.

Danish-Icelandic, b. 1967, Copenhagen, Denmark, based in Berlin, Germany