Over the past decade, Eliasson, a Danish artist of Icelandic origin, has developed a body of work that explores natural phenomena and the spatial and perceptual experiences they engender. The artist describes his photographs and sculptural and light installations as "phenomena-producers." His interest in perceptual inquiry can be traced back to his student years at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, where he was exposed to the California "light and space" artists Robert Irwin, Maria Nordman, and James Turrell.
Each summer Eliasson makes photographs in Iceland, and in 2004 he completed Jokla Series, his most ambitious project to date. Composed of forty-eight pictures, the work documents the longest river in eastern Iceland from source to mouth. The aerial view, taken while flying far above the water, is an artificial perspective on a natural landscape that would seem incomprehensibly enormous while on the ground. In this sense the project is related to 1970s Land art by artists such as Robert Smithson, Dennis Oppenheim, and Turrell and to aerial landscape work by photographers from William Garnett to Frank Gohlke. Significant to Eliasson’s photographic uvre is the idea of an atlas of Iceland, mapping the country through a visual archive of different locations and their changing conditions.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 215.