In October of last year the biggest and most ambitious private museum of Paris opened its doors for the first time. The new institute named Fondation Louis Vuitton aims to become a monumental contemporary-art museum, housed in a building designed by the legendary Frank Gehry and commissioned by the LVMH director Bernard Arnault himself. In the first months visitors could tour the building, view sketches and maquettes of Gehry’s design, and discover a rotating selection of artworks from the Fondation’s own impressive collection. In December the very first art exhibiting was opened, featuring tremendous new work by the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson named ‘Contact’. Like ‘Riverbed‘, which we were lucky to visit at the end of 2014, Eliasson once again created a highly immersive world, but instead of a rocky riverbed he takes the visitor on a virtual space odyssey after which one is intermittently plunged into darkness, making the exhibition a dark opposite of his exhibition at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
I would like to encourage visitors to think of themselves as if they were asteroids; to feel themselves floating through the space, meeting the artworks, meeting other visitors.
The exhibition opens with an impressive metallic meteorite, that visitors are invited to touch, giving it almost a ritualistic aura. Thereupon one enters a passage containing a large glass globe filled with water droplets that delivers an upside-down reflection of the scene outside the building. What follows is the show’s most talked about highlight; the first of two virtual planets, named ‘Map for Unthought Thoughts’. The space has been designed into a dark room with a large, bird’s-nest-like sculpture in the middle that casts a tall, spiky shadow on the wall opposite. As visitors are located within the work, making direct contact, their own magnified shadows merge with the sculpture’s, and their silhouettes become part of the artwork making it another gem from the mind of Eliasson. The second virtual planet, named ‘Contact’, offers a similar experience. It is another dark, mirrored room with a thin sliver of yellow light running along the wall, like the line of the horizon, creating the aesthetic of an eclipsed sun.
Without a doubt Eliasson is one of the brightest minds of his generation, continually finding a next level in his work.
Photography by Iwan Baan.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton is located at 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi, Bois de Boulogne in Paris. ‘Contact’ will be on display until the 6th of February.
Keep track of all the incredible work of Olafur Eliasson here.