Upon approaching the installation, Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day looks like a misplaced playground with abandonment issues, but once close by, a whole range of unexpected symmetries and unfinished circularities take shape. The boundaries between the reflection and what is being reflected are far from obvious, and together, they form something new that blends reality and perception, questioning both in equal measures.
This installation is the brainchild of Olafur Eliasson, an Icelandic-Danish artist who intended to highlight the reality that is generated by the interplay between the “real” world and our perception of it.
Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day consists of twenty circular mirrors mounted on semi-circular structures, three single rings, and two double rings. The mirrors face the ground, thus turning the semicircles supporting them into complete rings. As visitors look at the mirrors at different angles, semicircles turn into incomplete rings. The sharp contours of the shadows cast by these structures and reflected by the mirrors further enhance the sense of disorientation. The arrangement of these structures over the rocky desert may seem random, but in fact, its core forms a pentagram, an ancient Islamic symbol representing the Seal of Solomon.
Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day is located within the boundaries of Al Zubarah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which encompasses forts, abandoned pearling villages, archaeological sites, and an ecosystem distinctive of low-lying desert and hot and arid climate. The installation feels at home in a place that celebrates the interconnectedness of nature and culture.
The installation was unveiled in October 2022, alongside an extensive exhibition of Olafur Eliasson’s works at the National Museum of Qatar.
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