Riverbed

In 2014, artist Olafur Eliasson exhibited Riverbed at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. Riverbed is a rocky landscape placed inside the museum. This work has nature and culture folding around one another to an extent that illustrates that everything is culture. The work challenges the participators both physically and mentally, as it facilitates intimate contact with the sounds of the water running through the riverbed, the smell of the wet rocks and the gleam of light reflected on the wet rocks, and challenges your bodily balance as you walk up the hill or try to balance on the slippery or rolling rocks—all of it becomes significant.

In an interview, Eliasson mentions how the landscape appears dead, except for the little stream of water that passes through it. The movement of the water makes the work dynamic. The movement brings life. Yet the water doesn’t come or leave; it just moves and thereby touches the participants. It comes from nowhere, going anywhere. The work is a meditative contemplation addressing time as movement and as duration, not linear sequences that can be split up. It doesn’t lead to a result; it can’t be passed toward something better; on the contrary, time passes. As an internal process, “The walking time is unfolded,” says the artist.

riverbed-by-olafur-eliasson

Riverbed takes place in-between the coming and going. How aware are you of what is happening right here and now? What comes into being? What passes? How do you relate to what is happening? Is your perception already affected by strong beliefs or ideas? Can you only relate in a certain way because of past memories, external pressure or fantasies? Can you meet the world unarmed?

These questions circle around establishing a belief in this world, where our belief is connected with the actual moment, not a projection. The work Riverbed may help us from solely thinking about art as an object of our thinking to having a territory, that is, it makes us think.

A river, like a piece of art, has a past form, a present form and, perhaps, a form to come. It depends on our involvement. This involvement is ethical, I propose.

For example, Gilles Deleuze’s ethic is one of the events; not the present understood as an object, but the present living moment stretched in-between, “What is going to happen? What has just happened … never something which is happening.”

What is happening, therefore, is always a mixture of no longer and not yet. This is why Deleuze says that philosophy is mixture of crime and science fiction, dealing with what has just happened as well actualizing.

Art can teach us a lot about ethical involvement.

Flodleje

“It feels like I’m experiencing someone else’s dream. Like we’re simultaneously sharing feelings. But I can’t really grasp what it means to be simultaneous. Our feelings seem extremely close, but in reality there’s a considerable gap.” – Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

I Murakamis trilogi 1Q84 findes der to verdener. En med en måne, og en med to måner. Den ene foregår i året 1984, den anden foregår i – hvad den ene hovedperson døber – 1Q84. Romanen er en ligelig blanding af natur og kultur; ikkefiktion og fiktion. Eller, snarere viser den, at der slet ingen forskel er. Når fiktion er bedst, skaber den mere virkelighed.

Jeg havde netop lagt Murakamis tunge roman fra mig, da jeg besøgte Louisiana Museum, hvor Olafur Eliasson er aktuel med udstillingen Riverbed. Et flodleje forgrener sig i en af museets fløje, som et narrativ uden begyndelse og ende. Eliasson blander, som Murakami også natur og kultur. Om han skaber mere virkelighed, ved jeg ikke. Måske. Han formår i hvert fald at skabe et momentant nærvær, hvor ens sanser rent faktisk aktiveres. Stenene i flodlejet knirker og dufter. Vandet risler – lidt som en i japansk have. Som deltager sætter installationen sig i kroppen på en. Ens krop skifter hældning undervejs. Balance handler om at balancere. Opad bakke og nedad bakke.

En anmelder skrev, at stenene knirkede mere på stranden ude foran museet, end på selve udstillingen. En sådan observation fastholder forskellen mellem natur og kultur, som jo netop en den, mener jeg, Eliasson problematiserer. Distinktionen er kunstig. Anmelderen higer efter noget autentisk, som han ophøjer til et bedømmelseskriterium, selvom det er svært at se, hvordan stenene udenfor er mere autentiske end stenene indenfor. En sten er en sten er en sten. Mon anmelderen overså den sten, som jeg tog med ind og byttede med en af Eliassons islandske?

Udstillingen dufter lidt af en provinsiel indkørsel fuld af granitsten. Ikke desto mindre rummer den et potentiale for en sanselig skærpelse, måske en skærpelse af den virkelighed, som vi alle sammen deler, nemlig den, hvor den eneste natur der findes er kultur. 1984 og 1Q84 er tættere på hinanden. Nærmest uadskillelige.

Ofte siger folk, at de tager ud i naturen eller de – ganske komisk – rejser bort for at finde sig selv, men på Louisiana kan man lære, at man også kan gå den anden vej. Her går man ind i naturen. Jeg tror, jeg deler Eliassons naturromantiske drømme. Stilheden findes. Om man går ind i naturen for at møde den, eller ind i sig selv er underordnet. Det er et spørgsmål om temperament. De to folder sig om hinanden, som den fiktive natur og den ikkefiktive kultur. På en måde virker det som om, at der altid har været et flodleje på Louisiana. Nu er det bare blevet mere tydeligt.

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