Reversed waterfall, 1998
Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson, "Reversed waterfall", 1998.

Exhibition view: “Abundant Futures: Works from the TBA21 Collection”, C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba.

Photo: Roberto Ruiz.

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, 2016 © Courtesy Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, 2016 © Courtesy Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

Stainless steel, galvanized steel, polyvinyl chloride, wood, plywood, electric pump, rubber, water, copper, iron, aluminum, industrial paint
Overall dimensions: 495 x 216 x 505 cm

Olafur Eliasson’s Reversed waterfall  is one of the artist’s first works about waterfalls, conceived initially for an indoor presentation in a gallery. In contrast to the public projects he developed over the next two decades (most prominently in New York in 2008 and London in 2019), Reversed Waterfall shoots jets of water upward, from basin to basin, reversing the usual gravitational flow. In the context of the exhibtion "Abundant Futures" at C3A in Cordobá, the installation resonates with the magnificent Water Ladder in the Generalife Garden of the Alhambra complex in Granada and the history of landscape engineering in Andalusia, which dates back to the medieval period.
In Reversed waterfall, a rough four-tiered scaffolding placed in a pool of shallow water supports four rectangular metal basins, one on each level. Through a system of pumps, the water sprays wildly, unrestricted to the basins and pool it also dampens the immediate surroundings. The sound of splashing water is audible over the murmuring of the electric pumps and the air releases a subtle sensation of moisture. Eliasson’s interest in waterfalls and the multisensory perceptual experiences they afford connects to his interrogations of subjectivity (inside) in relation to so-called objectivity (outside). Ecological vision, a term coined by the psychologists Eleanor and James Gibson, offers a more complex account of the perceptual process, one that explores the environment not only with the eyes but with “the eyes-in-the-head-on-the-body-resting-on-the-ground.” It calls attention to the intricate interrelations between visuality, mobility, and sensations and the work performed by everchanging ecological processes.


Group exhibition: Abundant Futures
Venue: C3A Centro de Creación Contemporánea de Andalucía, Córdoba  
Curator: Daniela Zyman
April 1, 2022 - March 5, 2023
Olafur Eliasson, born in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1967. Lives in Copenhagen and Berlin, Germany.