Olafur Eliasson's Sonnenenergie 22 installed in the light-flooded Rotunda of the Pinakothek der Moderne
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Olafur Eliasson's Sonnenenergie 22 installed in the light-flooded Rotunda of the Pinakothek der Moderne
Installation view, Sonnenenergie 22, Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, 2022, Photo by Juliane Eirich.

MUNICH.- For the first time, an artistic installation presented in the light-flooded Rotunda of the Pinakothek der Moderne focuses on the sun. The earth's rotation around the sun becomes the protagonist of an ephemeral light painting – Olafur Eliasson's expansive artwork Sonnenenergie 22 (Solar Energy 22).

Light has played a fundamental role in Eliasson's artistic work for decades now, which spans installations, paintings, sculptures, photography, and film. For Sonnenenergie 22, Eliasson has installed an immense circular projection surface at an angle within the rotunda. A series of circular, distorting mirrors and special color-effect filters on the north side of the glazed Rotunda ceiling cast sunlight onto the projection surface, and free-hanging rings of reflective glass and color filters add polytonal complexity by reflecting circles and arcs of light onto the screen. The moving, dynamic projections of sunlight make the invisible rotation of the earth almost physically tangible for us on the screen. Sonnenenergie 22 uses only sunlight as its energy source to create what Eliasson calls an "analog film"; on cloudy days and at night, when there is no direct sunlight, the screen will remain dark and the artwork dormant.

"From spring to autumn 2022, the sun and earth work together to create Sonnenenergie 22. As the earth's position in relation to the sun changes, the screenplay evolves, making the artwork constantly new. The unfolding narrative amplifies the movement of the earth, so that the invisible motion becomes visible. When you encounter the artwork on a sunny day, it is your own movement that you see as you travel on this spaceship earth through the vastness of space." stated Olafur Eliasson.

“Sonnenenergie 22 turns the center of the Pinakothek der Moderne into an energetic solar observatory within the art space. As visitors move to the Rotunda's upper floors, the light image becomes visible from new perspectives and the mechanisms responsible for the reflections become apparent. Through the simple means of mirrors and a projection surface, the artist manages to create an impressive experience of the surrounding space in motion, situating us in relation to the Blue Planet and the universe emerging behind it – a sublime and, at the same time, touching installation that invites us to linger in the Rotunda, exchange ideas or indulge in daydreams. As in other large-scale projects by the artist – notably, The weather project, the artificial sunset at Tate Modern in 2003, and Beauty, 1993, a shimmering rainbow in a darkened room – Sonnenenergie 22 targets the wealth of our emotional experience and our intellectual thirst for knowledge, both constitutive aspects of his art. The title of the work draws attention to the crucial importance of alternative energies in our present times,” stated Dr. Michael Hering.

"I have always been preoccupied with ephemeral and atmospheric spaces in my work. Art allows us to see reality as atmospheres. These are simple constructs – but with the notion that an atmospheric reality is a negotiable reality, we regain responsibility. For me, the ability to negotiate our relationship with the environment brings with it a kind of freedom – the freedom to reinterpret our own past, present and future." (Excerpt from a conversation between Olafur Eliasson and Michael Hering, Berlin 2018).

Curator: Dr. Michael Hering, Director Staatliche Graphische Sammlung Munich

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