Olafur Eliasson, Your House, 2006
Olafur Eliasson's Your House is an oversize, sculptural volume evoking a passage through a turn-of-the-twentieth-century European house in the Nordic Romantic style—the artist's own house in Copenhagen, Denmark. The book's 454 handbound leaves (or 908 pages) digitally reproduce a series of vertical cross-sections of the house on a scale of 85:1 (so that each leaf corresponds to 2.2 centimeters of the actual house). In addition, each leaf is individually laser-cut to create negative spaces in the paper, and these apertures, opening on the shifting forms of cut pages to come, cumulatively produce the sensorial illusion of being inside the house. The planar views in the images may make little sense individually: here we may recognize the familiar geometries of a door or window, but elsewhere, the odd slide of a staircase, or a round cellar chamber, only comes together in the collective image made up by sequences of pages seen through the cutouts as one. The result is an intensified sense of space, dimension, and materiality. As we move through the book page by page, or step by step, we seem to feel the sensation of walking through the building, from the front doorway across living rooms, bedrooms, the basement, the attic, the kitchen, and out the garden door.
Your House both exploits the narrative and sequential possibilities of the book form and examines the perceptual and spatial experience of domestic architecture. In addition to its remarkable system of cutouts and images, the book uses a variety of other documentary, optical, exploratory, and presentational techniques. Some passages recall historical prints and books; a dizzying flight of paper stairs, for example, may suggest the paradoxical spaces of Piranesi, or the illusionary perspectives of miniature hand-cut paper theaters from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. At the same time, this white artwork, both sculptural and architectural, recalls the Purist modernism of Le Corbusier. Your House also "documents" the physical world, drawing on both the technical and the handmade to create an extraordinary, disorienting illusion of an inhabitable, portable home.
Born of Icelandic extraction in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1967, Olafur Eliasson lives and works in Copenhagen and Berlin, Germany. His work has been exhibited in many international venues, including the Tate Modern, London (2003), and the Menil Collection, Houston (2004). The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art organized a major retrospective of his work in 2007, which traveled to The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, in 2008.
Conceived by Olafur Eliasson, Your House was designed and realized at groenland.berlin by Michael Heimann and Claudia Baulesch. KREMO, of Mosbach, Germany, produced the book's 452 laser-cut leaves, and the computer-aided modeling was created by Georg Sagurna. Markus Rottmann bound the book for Heiner Hauck Portfolios, Berlin. The project was managed by Caroline Eggel at Studio Olafur Eliasson. The book measures 11 1/2 x 17 3/4 x 4 1/2" (29.2 x 45 x 11.5 cm).
For their support at the Museum, grateful thanks are owed to Kathy Fuld, Chairman of the Library Council; David Frankel, Managing Editor; Milan Hughston, Chief of Library and Museum Archives; Glenn D. Lowry, Director; Peter Reed, Senior Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs; and Kathleen Tunney, Library and Museum Archives Coordinator. Travel funds were provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art. Outside the Museum, the same grateful thanks go to Tanya Bonakdar and Carolina Nitsch.
Of the edition of 225 copies, 140 were reserved for the members of the Library Council of The Museum of Modern Art and 85 were originally available for purchase at a price of $3,500. The edition is now out of print.