Ólafur Eliasson: Shadows travelling on the sea of the day: Northern Heritage sites, Doha, Qatar

24 October 2022 

Olafur Eliasson’s site-specific work ‘سفر الظلال في بحر النهار (Shadows travelling on the sea of the day)’ opens today north of Doha as part of Qatar Creates. Shadows travelling on the sea of the day (2022) continues the Icelandic- Danish artist's longstanding exploration into the interplay of human perception and the natural world. 


The installation comprises twenty mirrored circular shelters, three single rings, and two double rings that are positioned according to the axes of a fivefold symmetrical pattern, with the ten shelters at the centre forming a pentagram, or five-pointed star. The principles behind such patterns were recently discovered by mathematicians in the West, although they may have informed some of the sophisticated designs found in Islamic cultures since medieval times. 


Regarding his artwork, Olafur Eliasson said, "Shadows travelling on the sea of the day, 2022, is an invitation to resync with the planet. It is a celebration of everything being in and moving through the desert site north of Doha at the time of your visit – animals, plants, and human beings; stories, traditions, and cultural artefacts; wind, sunlight, air, and shimmering heat. 


On arriving at the installation, looking up at the mirrored undersides, you will come to realise that you are, in fact, looking down – at the earth and at yourself. Above and below, sand envelops you, together with anyone else sharing the space. It is a kind of reality check of your connectedness to the ground. The mirrors connect and perfect what is physically distinct and partial, linking the actual surroundings with the reflected space and creating a sea of interconnections. The oscillation of your gaze, together with the movement of your body, may amplify your sense of presence, while the curving structures seem to dematerialise, becoming naturalcultural landscape."