Ólafur Elíasson: Sometimes the River is the Bridge: Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Japan

9 June - 27 September 2020 

The title of the exhibition, Sometimes the river is the bridge, suggests the possibility of bestowing form and function onto formless things—like invisible rivers that may appear to be bridges with a particular form and function, when viewed from a different, alternative perspective.

Inspired by the theme of sustainability, the exhibition takes its point of departure from Eliasson’s interest in the environment, as reflected in how he has voiced his opinions at the United Nations as well as through projects like Little Sun (2012–) and Ice Watch (2014–). It is the result of a two-year dialogue with curator Yuko Hasegawa, partially in relation to the tsunami that occurred in the Tohoku region of Japan in 2011.

The highlight of this exhibition is a new large-scale installation in the 20-meter long atrium space, called Sometimes the river is the bridge. A basin of water is placed in the center of the darkened space, while the reflections of twelve lights illuminating the surface of the water create various shadows on the circular screen wall above. The ripples caused by the gentle stirrings of the water surface take on a variety of forms, inviting the viewer to partake in a state of deep contemplation that resonates with these water ripples. This is not just an individual sensory experience, but also a medium for empathy with others who share the same space. 

Organized by Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo operated by Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture / The Sankei Shimbun

Supported by Embassy of Iceland, Japan / Royal Danish Embassy
Sponsored by Kvadrat, Bloomberg L.P., JINS HOLDINGS Inc.
Grant from The Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation, Obayashi Foundation