• John Diamond-Nigh

The #weather forecast for your living room today . . .

Updated: Aug 31, 2019

#Björk, #Sigur Rós (mysterious rock group) and #Olafur Eliason (multivalent artist) all hail from one steamy, glacial #island. Numerous artists #(Roni Horn) go there on a regular basis to transmute its haunting desolations into art. A prominent model left the big city/bright lights of fashion to return to her remote family farm, fix up an old tractor, and tend sheep in a landscape more lunar than earthly. The call of the #Icelandic wild.

It’s risky to put any country in a nutshell–Iceland is hardly an almond. But it does seem to foster great #avant-garde artists who evoke, through the austere stone prism of their country's character, haunting, startling states of mind.

#Macfarlane (last blog) and Eliason are so much alike. Both attempt to persuade us of the fundamental role that #nature must play in #modern life, to transpose the bird-swirling, far-off places of earth straight into the core of everyday life. Who of us can swim over a freezing channel of water to explore some island off the coast of Scotland? There, like some meteorological Robinson Crusoe, Macfarlane scrutinizes every shift in the weather, the clouds, the temperature, the humidity, the currents of birds, as if each of these were a brutal, lovely code for our continuance on this planet that we, in turn, with our prolific urban diversions, keep trying to paint over.

#“Atmosphere” is a particular realm of the #arts– of #design, of #dance, of #music (supremely), #photography, #literature. I love a rainy evening and the moody patter it spreads through our home. I love light for the same reason, how a chair is so different at noon than it is by lamplight. Call it #domestic weather, as fluctuating inside as it is outside. #Frank Lloyd Wright insisted on big windows in his houses because he saw what the outside could teach the inside about vulnerability, about changeability, about contingency. About beauty. Home as #bottled weather.

I have seen several of Eliason’s exhibitions and installations. One night, Lynne’s New York City sister suggested a late-night bus tour through Manhattan and Brooklyn. Yuck, I said. Just try it, she said. At one point the bus stopped near the shore in Brooklyn, giving us a view of a full moon over the East River, of glorious, starry night-time Manhattan and of a huge #waterfall that had been constructed under the far end of Brooklyn Bridge (Eliason). What was he thinking?– a savage cascade from Iceland transposed to the heart of Manhattan, gleaming in the moonlight.

An acute student of weather, it’s no surprise that light is at the heart of Eliason’s work. He has created a monumental sun (Tate Gallery); he has created a chamber of mist through which you walk, encountering others as little more than impalpable silhouettes, draining as they recede into absence. Ghosts. Our modern condition, as it happens, is also as ancient as fog.

He has also created lamps and furniture for the home. All of it weather.

Such “atmospheres,” Eliason hastens to point out, are not just emotional, but also #moral. They should stir us. A room that soothes and settles us, like the patter of rain, should also, by turns, unsettle us. To whit, great conversation. How often have I said, when a lovely guest has left, “well . . . shit.” Our homes can be both a #refuge and a quiet #provocation. A shimmer of thunder. Yes, I’d be happy to do without cat-scratched carpets, but not without the #poignancy of animals, the race and flurry and #wild of them.

Or a simple gust of chrysanthemums.

Or the #windflux of #Bach played loud.

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