Following the unprecedented success of the exhibition OLAFUR ELIASSON: BAROQUE BAROQUE, organized by Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary and the Belvedere at the Winter Palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy in Vienna, the upcoming project Green light at TBA21–Augarten in Vienna is a new socially conscious endeavor the Danish-Icelandic artist.
Conceived by Olafur Eliasson as a metaphorical green light for refugees and migrants in Austria and beyond, the project testifies to the agency of contemporary art and its potential to initiate processes of civic transformation. Green light consists of an artistic workshop and the learning platform Green light – Shared learning surrounding the making of lamp modules designed by Eliasson. The lamps are assembled on-site from materials and components that are made available at TBA21-Augarten. In addition to Augarten’s regular audience, young refugees, migrants, and university students are invited to take part in this process of collaborative artistic practice and learning, giving rise to a space of exchange and encounter for contributors from a range of linguistic, social, geographic, and educational backgrounds.
The Green light project responds to a situation of great uncertainty, both for refugees, who are often caught up in legal and political limbo, and for the European societies that welcome them. Through its communal fabrication, Green light constitutes a dynamic space that elicits various forms of participation. By collapsing the categories of production and reception, performer and audience, and art and social action, the project aims to open up the contested terrain between art and society, probing the question of what constitutes the “public” and negotiating a field of difference and similarity.
Olafur Eliasson says: “It is my hope that Green light will shine light on some of the challenges and responsibilities arising from the current refugee crisis in Europe and throughout the world. Green light is an act of welcoming, addressed both to those who have fled hardship and instability in their home countries and to the residents of Vienna. It invites them to take part in the construction of something of value through a playful, creative process. Working together in an artistic context, in dialogue with the regular visitors of the Augarten, participants build both a modular light and a communal environment, in which difference is not only accepted but embraced. Green light attempts to question the values of similarity and otherness in our society and to help shape our feelings of identity and togetherness.”
The crystalline Green light lamps are polyhedral units fitted with small, green-tinted light fixtures. Made predominantly from recycled and sustainable materials and designed to be stackable, the modules can function either as single objects or be assembled into a variety of architectural con gurations. At TBA21–Augarten, the lamps will form a steadily expanding environment in the exhibition space that carries the narratives of its making.
Over the course of the three-month Green light project at TBA21-Augarten the participants and students will partake in a multifaceted curriculum of shared learning initiated by TBA21. An evolving sculptural environment made from hundreds of modular Green light lamps will accommodate a multidirectional weekly program. Within the framework of the Green light – Shared Learning program, artists, thinkers, students, refugees, migrants, and collaborating organizations are invited to host and to be part of a series of workshops, seminars, performances, screenings, lectures, and artistic interventions responding to socio- and geopolitical, cultural, and personal issues and narratives of migration and arrival through collaborative creative activities and critical discourse.