The largest exhibition in Italy to date by the Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson will be on show from September 22 to January 22, 2023, with over twenty works addressing subjective perception and shared experience in a unique engagement with the Renaissance Palazzo. Nel tuo tempo (In Your Time) extends throughout the spaces of Palazzo Strozzi, including the courtyard, piano nobile, and the Strozzina gallery.
The original and visionary artist directly interacts with the museum building itself, positioning lights so as to make the large windows a giant feature in the room, with every crack and detail of the glass magnified and made enthralling as visitors’ shadows traverse the panes. Shimmering rainbows appear through mists, a yellow-lit room deprives viewers of colour, rendering individuals in grey tones and disorientating participants in the display, and a large metal arc dramatically bisects a room with a mirrored ceiling, seeming to create a unifying space in which viewers are startled to see themselves reflected above themselves. Viewers marvel at Firefly double-polyhedron sphere experiment (2020), a large polyhedron made with pieces of green, orange, yellow, cyan and pink glass, with two complex polyhedrons embedded one inside the other. The Colour spectrum kaleidoscope (2003) awes with its dichromatic mirrors of various colours in a hexagonal kaleidoscope mounted on a wooden tripod. Eliasson explains, “Kaleidoscopes play on the fact that what we see can easily be disorganized or reconfigured”.
The curator of the exhibition and Director General of Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, Arturo Galansino, tells us, “In 2015, Olafur visited the spaces of Palazzo Strozzi for the first time and was astonished by the Renaissance architecture, starting a long conversation between him and the 15th century palace, a complex dialogue whose meaning is distilled into this exhibition”. Olafur Eliasson elaborates, “Nel tuo tempo is a meeting-up of artworks, visitors, and Palazzo Strozzi itself. This extraordinary Renaissance building has travelled through the centuries to greet us here, now, in the 21st century – not as a mere host for art but as a co-producer of the exhibition”.
The exhibition brings together new and older works that feature light, shadows, reflections, patterns, and intense colour, with a site-specific installation in the courtyard and a digital artwork created using VR technology. Entering the courtyard, you are greeted by Under the weather (2022), comprising a large elliptical structure over 10 metres tall that’s suspended 8 metres above the ground. The work employs a moiré effect, destabilizing the viewer’s perception of Palazzo Strozzi’s strict octagonal architecture and challenging the historical structure. As visitors move around the courtyard while viewing the work, the pattern evolves and shifts, interacting with each individual differently in an exchange activated by the viewer’s movement. Only at specific vantage points at either end of the courtyard does the ellipse appear circular.
The artist prioritizes the viewer’s personal experience with the works: “Our individual journeys, with diverse backgrounds and experiences, we meet up in the here and now of the exhibition. The artworks that I have conceived specifically for the exhibition intervene in the existing spaces – with artificial lights, fleeting shadows, reflections, moiré patterns, and intense colour. The works propose a choreography in which you take part, one of flow and spatial transformation, of exploratory movement and contemplative moments. What questions emerge? What options for feeling-moving-thinking differently? And what traces may linger after you leave the exhibition?”.
Maria Manetti Shrem Educational Centre
On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition, the educational centre was launched with tours, workshops and special visit tools organized by the hub for schools, families, young people and adults. Specific workshops will be dedicated to people with Alzheimer’s, Parksinson’s, autism, intellectual impairment and those living with a condition of fragility. Activities will orient around the artworks on display, with conversations and group activities prompted by the artists’ poetics, in the newly renovated spaces of the educational centre have been designed by ARCHEA Associati. Maria Manetti Shrem was born in Florence and moved to San Francisco in 1972 where she was instrumental for the internationalization of some iconic fashion brands. She lives between San Francisco, Napa Valley and Florence and is a philanthropist in support of education, music, fine arts, health and science.