Olafur Eliasson The inverted panorama house, 2004
Olafur Eliasson, The inverted panorama house, 2004

There are 1.6 billion people in the world without access to electricity, and there is another billion without consistent access to power. This means that about a quarter of the world’s population does not have reliable access to energy.

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  • Olafur Eliasson, Eine Beschreibung einer Reflexion, oder aber eine angenehme Übung zu deren Eigenschaften

    Olafur Eliasson, Eine Beschreibung einer Reflexion, oder aber eine angenehme Übung zu deren Eigenschaften, 1995 Photo: Jens Ziehe 

    © Olafur Eliasson

  • Olafur Eliasson, Eine Beschreibung einer Reflexion, oder aber eine angenehme Übung zu deren Eigenschaften

    Olafur Eliasson, Eine Beschreibung einer Reflexion, oder aber eine angenehme Übung zu deren Eigenschaften, 1995 Photo: Jens Ziehe

    © Olafur Eliasson

  • Olafur Eliasson, Eine Beschreibung einer Reflexion, oder aber eine angenehme Übung zu deren Eigenschaften

    Olafur Eliasson, Eine Beschreibung einer Reflexion, oder aber eine angenehme Übung zu deren Eigenschaften, 1995, Photo: Jens Ziehe

    © Olafur Eliasson

Little Sun is a handheld solar-powered lantern, and although we won’t solve the world’s energy problem with a handheld lamp, we will do two things: we will bring light to many people who need it, and we will address the energy problem on a global scale. Access to energy is not just about having light; it is not just about the pragmatics of having light for your daily doings. It has more profound implications because light defines a much deeper sense of Being-in-the-world. As an example: when you start an education, you start thinking about how educating yourself is also a part of sculpting your own identity.

Olafur Eliasson, The light setup

Olafur Eliasson, The light setup, 2005 Photo: Jens Ziehe

© Olafur Eliasson

Olafur Eliasson The light setup, 2005

Light is physical in the sense that it shapes your life by giving you the means to reflect upon yourself. This is why, in my work, I have always thought of light as not just something that falls on a surface so that you can see the surface. Light is something that shapes the surface. It shapes it both in colour and shade, but also physically – it gives it a body. Light and physicality are connected. If something has a body, it also takes up space. And in a physical space, you can meet another person. This creates a feeling of collectivity. This is why light and physicality are things I have worked with for a long time.

Olafur Eliasson The sunset kaleidoscope 2005

Olafur Eliasson, The sunset kaleidoscope, 2005; installation view, Pfefferberg, 2006

© Olafur Eliasson

The sunset kaleidoscope, Pfefferberg, Berlin, 2006

For the Tate, I’ve thought a lot about how to raise the issue that light is not just a means to illuminate something else; light is actually a physical action.