olafur eliasson launches green light with two days of action to support refugees in vienna
The socially conscious artist is pulling together speakers, artists, performers and thinkers to testify to the ability of art to help and enact social change.
Following on from the success of Baroque Baroque, a partial retrospective the artist staged in the Austrian capital, Olafur Eliasson is staging two days of workshops and events, titled Acts of Participation, in the city, beginning today. Green Light attests to the artist's continued experiments in the way contemporary art can act as a vehicle for civic transformation and positive change.
Conceived as a metaphorical (and literal) green light to the refugees, the project will consist of a series of workshops open to everyone, from young refugees and migrants to university students and members of the public. The project responds to a situation of great uncertainty, both of the refugees and the societies who are welcoming them, through the communal building of a series of architectural light works designed by Olafur, Green Light breaks down distinction between audience and artist, art and activism, production and reception. The works will be for sale, all proceeds going towards charity.
"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," Olafur explained in a statement. "It invites them to take part in the construction of something of value through a playful, creative process." By doing so, Olafur is also shining a light on the complexities and inconsistencies of asylum law in Europe, as asylum seekers don't have a legal right to work or access to education in Austria.
Alongside the main workshops, over the next two days Olafur will stage a series of Acts of Participation, featuring communal lunches, football matches, seminars, film screenings, and talks.
Text Felix Petty