WATCH LIVE: Olafur Eliasson + Paul Holdengräber

a part of Arctic Imagination

Wednesday 5 April 2017 at 20:00 Queens Hall

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The world-famous Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson seeks via his art to involve his public in both his work and surrounding society. Eliasson is visiting The Black Diamond for a conversation with Paul Holdengräber, head of New York Public Library’s LIVE, on the occasion of the international library project Arctic Imagination.

The Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson transcends space and scale when he combines elements of nature and existing architecture in his spectacular art. And with climate as a requisite, Eliasson’s diverging spatial constructions require the public to sense and orientate themselves afresh – and indirectly participate in a larger debate.

After completing his studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (1989-95), Eliasson’s artistic vision rapidly assumed form. In the same year that he qualified, he founded the Berlin-based artist collective Studio Olafur Eliasson, which now comprises about 90 craftworkers, specialised technicians, architects, archivists, administrators, programmers, art historians and chefs.

This is the first event in Denmark under the heading Arctic Imagination: an artistic brainstorm about the melting ice and the increasing temperatures across the Atlantic Ocean.

In only 100 years, the Arctic and the North Pole have been transformed from highly dangerous and mysterious peripheral areas into regions that need our protection and sense of responsibility. In 2017, five major libraries in New York, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Nuuk are combining in Arctic Imagination in a unique collaboration across the Atlantic, in which a number of high-profile artistic and creative voices will contribute to a global brainstorming within this area.

Read more about ARCTIC IMAGINATION here.


Since the 1990s, Eliasson’s art has increasingly become politically motivated. Lecturer at the Department of Art and Cultural Studies Maria Fabricius Hansen says to the cultural periodical diamanten: “Eliasson was initially a more conventional visual artist and has since become more socially involved. And I now have the feeling that his traditional artistic activity is merely an incentive for him to do something that means something in societal terms in relation to climate, etc.”

The issue of climate as a recurrent nerve in Eliasson’s art is impossible to ignore. His most remarkable international exhibitions include The weather project (2003) at the Tate Moder’s Turbine Hall in London, Riverbed (2004) at Louisiana in Denmark and Verklighetsmaskiner (Reality Machines, 2015) at Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

But Eliasson makes his comprehensive projects in the public space confront the public even more. Green River was implemented in various cities between 1998 and 2001, and The New York City Waterfalls were installed on Manhattan’s and Brooklyn’s coastlines during summer 2008. And Ice Watch brought melting icebergs from Greenland to Copenhagen in 2014 and to Paris on the occasion of the COP21 climate conference in 2015.

The international artistic brainstorm Arctic Imagination forms the framework for Olafur Eliasson’s visit to The Black Diamond. In a conversation with Paul Holdengräber, who is curator and interviewer for New York Public Library LIVE, Eliasson will talk about his artistic vision and the debate-stimulating function of his installations in relation to the melting ice and rising temperatures in the Arctic region.

Eliasson will engage in a conversation with Paul Holdengräber, the man behind LIVE from the New York Public Library – a vibrant conversational scene that has refashioned author talks and conversations in the intellectual arena since 2004.
The guests span from authors such as Orhan Pamuk, Günter Grass and Norman Mailer to rock musicians as Patti Smith, David Byrne and Brian Eno.