Architecture / Jugendstil-Building / Olafur Eliasson's Starbrick

Olafur Eliasson's Starbrick

Olafur Eliasson's Starbrick

Starbrick // On display since the re-opening of the Jugendstil building in autumn 2013, Olafur Eliasson's “Starbrick” welcomes the visitors to Kunsthalle Mannheim. Eliasson conceived the light installation in co-operation with Zumtobel in 2009. For Mannheim, the installation was developed into a site-specific, modular light installation, sensitive to its surroundings: 35 star-shaped light modules organised into a honeycomb-like structure illuminate the grand staircase of Hermann Billing’s atrium with a special light.
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“Starbrick” subtly refers to Jugendstil’s emphasis on line and form and finds in its geometric structure a contemporary equivalent. Eliasson's “Starbrick” also enters into a striking dialogue with Constantin Brancusi's “Big Fish” (1930) – a centrepiece of the museum's collection displayed in the entrance hall rotunda. Light, space, and observer are closely intertwined.
“Starbrick’s” basic structure is a cube on whose six surfaces additional cubes have been placed at a 45 degree angle. These additional cubes serve as connectors so that several Starbricks can be conjoined. By this, the star-shaped module produces three types of space: the solid structure of the module itself, the negative space at its core in the form of a ‘cubeoctahedron’, and the polyhedric shapes that appear between the modules when stacked.
With “Starbrick” and its positioning in the Kunsthalle, Eliasson raises fundamental questions: “How does light define space? How does it affect the way we perceive the world? Light opens undefined spaces and challenges us to define our perception anew. It has a special expressiveness; with its transience, it evokes personal feelings and stories that often unfold in a social context.”
As they cross the atrium, visitors experience constantly changing perspectives, created by the complex geometry of the light installation. In its engagement with space and light, Eliasson’s “Starbrick” also gestures to the guiding philosophy of the Kunsthalle Mannheim as a “museum in motion”.

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