Since 2008 the Palace of Versailles has put on a number of exhibitions dedicated to French or foreign artists, each one creating a special dialogue between their works and the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. This year, Olafur Eliasson was invited to strike installations in the french monument. Running from 7 June to 30 October 2016, the exhibition features three outdoor works themed around water and several architectural interventions indoors.
For the occasion, the danish artist has installed a giant waterfall that cascades into the Grand Canal of the royal gardens at the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris. It is one of many Eliasson works sprawled across the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in France, which annually hosts an exhibition by a major contemporary artist.
Cascading from high above the surface of the pool, the waterfall installation appears as a torrent of water of with no discernible source when viewed from the front steps of the palace.
In the case of Waterfall, the gushing water conceals a latticed tower built from yellow steel girders, which become apparent to audiences as the view the installation from its sides. Water is pumped through a system of pipes to emerge from a platform at the top of the tower.
Here, from within the palace, ‘waterfall’ can be viewed along the axis of the grand canal.
Eliasson’s other outdoor installations are Fog Assembly, which envelopes audiences in mist, and Glacial Rock Flour Garden, bringing the residue of retracting glaciers to the grounds.
Glacial Rock Flour Garden features the residue of retracting glaciers.
Inside the château, the spatial interventions are activated by mirrors and light. While the furnishings of the rooms remain unchanged, the interiors are enhanced through a multiplication of perspectives created by a sequence of mirrors.
Within the exhibition, Eliasson invites visitors to become active participants in the reality that surrounds them. They can discover their own reflection in unexpected locations, modifying the perception of the rooms.
Displacing perception of intention is one of the exhibition’s main themes. ‘I want to encourage us to explore Versailles without there being a particular intention – not like in life where most things tend to be planned. I want people to really experience the works, even to be part of them,’ says Eliasson. ‘Changing our perceptions and perspectives of the world.’