Underwhelmed. Not a real word, I know, yet somehow – so appropriate.
How can a show hyped as ‘the contemporary art event of the year’, of work by a man who is at the epicentre of one of the world’s largest artists studios, by an artist who has gargantuan books published about him, leave me feeling so….meh?
I’m not yet completely sure myself, but Olafur Elisasson’s Take Your Time, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, has me at such an apathetic crossroads of emotion. Shame. The hype didn’t help. It never does. And doling out $15 at the door only sharpens this anticipation.
The exhibition is smaller than I’d imagined. Sort of…piecey. The very same space that was transformed into a sensory wonderland by Yayoi Kusama only last year now seems somewhat barren and tired. To be greeted in the first room by monochromatic piles of lego (The cubic structural evolution project) and a gaggle of euphoric children is amusing, but a strange headspace with which to begin this (all too brief) journey.
At times it feels that space has been filled unimaginatively, particularly in the case of the Model room (as the title suggests). A disjointed vision is also hinted at in the presentation of photographic series (The horizon series, The inner cave series et al) which, although pleasing in their own ways, seem out of place – awkwardly banished to the end of the exhibition wing. Spotlight works Remagine and the three Mirror doors are unremarkable, unflattered by the MCA’s exhibition space, although at times it’s hard to know whether it’s the artwork is doing a disservice to the space or vice versa.
There are moments of beauty, and the work which goes by the very name is naturally one of them. Washed over by comforting earthiness from the wall of living lichen, the audience creeps into the next room – a dark cavernous space – to find the air cooled and an undulating ribbon of rainbow emerging from the mist as a hypnotic apparition.
Beauty is a welcome climax, but has the unfortunate effect of reiterating the ways in which many of the other pieces have fallen short on my walk back out of the show.
Another more successful moment, and one on which I end this exhibition, is 360 degree room for all colours. A warming, seductive space, this step-in construction is akin to a dreamscape, a recollection of a near-death experience, or less cerebrally, what it might be like to be trapped within the sunrise.