Room With a View


“Our so-called space-time dimension of the visible universe is only one dimension of the many ‘sandwiched’ into our being,” writes Einar Thorsteinn, who sounds like the latest pop-science auteur, but is actually the geometry guru who has engineered many of Olafur Eliasson’s visually transparent, intellectually transcendent installations. In his latest show at Bonakdar, Eliasson pays tribute to Thorsteinn with Modelroom, a wunderkammer of the pair’s project maquettes: delicate paper Möbius strips, torus knots crafted from spirals of copper wire, and mirror-faceted geodesic domes (a nod to Thorsteinn’s mentor Buckminster Fuller). This exquisitely cluttered display, resembling a miniature science fair, is a clever departure from the spare architectural interventions Eliasson is known for.

Modelroom owes as much to Duchamp’s retrospective-in-a-suitcase as it does to the utopian visions of Fuller and Moholy-Nagy, though it claims to be less about reifying science than constructing an aesthetic fourth dimension—”seeing yourself sensing,” as the title of Eliasson’s 2001 MOMA project had it. Eliasson and Thorsteinn’s impatience with the other three dimensions invokes Edwin Abbott’s Victorian satire Flatland; the title of their co-authored book borrows from Abbott’s dedication, “To the Habitants of Space in General,” to the delight of math geeks everywhere. The same playful phenomenology is at work in Plane Scanner, an installation worthy of the most poetic structuralist films, in which oblique bands of light define the volume of a darkened room.

This show, Eliasson’s fourth in New York, falls between last year’s well-received solo exhibition at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris and a much anticipated turn representing Denmark at the upcoming Venice Biennale. The stakes have never been higher for this young artist, which makes his willingness to share the credit for his elegant universe all the more disarming.