Feelings are facts

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© Courtesy of Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
Feelings are facts

798 Art District, No.4 Jiuxianqiao Lu
Chaoyang District
100015 Beijing
April 4th, 2010 - June 24th, 2010

+86 (0) 10 8459 9269
Tue-Sun 10-7


This spring UCCA inaugurates a site-specific exhibition, a result of the unique collaboration between renowned Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and the talented young Chinese architect Ma Yansong. This installation is the manifesto of a creative dialogue developed between the two, an interaction pushing the line between art and architecture to new limits. The final result is a breathtaking piece specifically designed for UCCA's space. It takes the spectator on an extraordinary journey, challenging the status of one's relationship both with nature and one's urban surroundings.

Olafur Eliasson is distinguished for his ability to impose a unique system that creates a revolutionary artistic form and experience.Using light, color, water, sky and temperature, he is able to transform enormous empty spaces into artificial environments. When encountered, they invite the viewer directly into the art work using such experience to induce a heightened awareness of what one's perception is undergoing by participating in such a work. Here the spectator, rather than simply viewing an art object from the outside, surprisingly witnesses himself becoming an integral part of the artwork. The viewer enters a world of extra-sensorial perception whereby color, light and architecture enable him to re-evaluate his relationship with his surroundings.

Feelings are facts is the second time UCCA has had the pleasure to collaborate with the remarkable Ma Yansong, the first collaboration being the 2008 exhibition Christian Dior and Chinese Artists. An exceptional figure within the Chinese architectural world, Ma has managed to elude stereotypical classification and categorization. His work harbors a permanent element of surprise, capturing the viewer's attention with an adept use of the most advanced materials and techniques to realize his bold architectural visions. His inventive architectural forms resemble organic even human-like entities, emitting undeniable life-like energy.

UCCA is proud to present an exhibition of this caliber to the public.We hope two such diverse artists will inspire visitors with thisastoundingly original and creative art experience.

Jérôme Sans
UCCA Director


The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art is proud to present Feelings are facts, a collaborative installation piece by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson and Chinese architect Ma Yansong. The work draws on the artists' ongoing concern with the co-production of reality; pressing us to consider perhaps that our thinking must happen in a place of openness and at moments when we are inspired by creativity. Both Eliasson and Ma share a special quality: they endow their work with beguiling form and have an unusual capacity to surprise us, but they go beyond any mere formalistic revolution; their art is also a questioning of the world, a controlled use of issues and a deep contemplation of reality.

Time and again Nature, as an inspirer of truth, shows us unbridled passion and awesome physical forms. Eliasson and Ma both show an aptitudeand willingness to draw from Nature and address the messages she sends us; given this, the artist and architect feel their upcoming collaboration will be a mutually productive encounter.

The pair will work together to create an "other reality," one that can make us doubt what our own senses are telling us. It will be a dialogue between two similarly independent and creative makers of art, albeit they are products of different cultural backgrounds. Ma Yansong will create a nearly 60 meter long curving space in the main exhibition hall at UCCA; Olafur Eliasson will fill the space with fog that shimmers with an artificial light spectrum created using arrays of red, green and blue fluorescent lamps. This illusion in light is not something we would find in Nature, but as we walk through this space, as we stand within it, the sights and sensations we experience are indeed real and, in their own way, reality.

For the two artists this collaboration will be a dialogue between the different ways of seeing of two cultures, a conversation that will be conducted in openness, transcending the underpinnings of their respective past experiences. As we come face to face with this broader and more negotiated way of seeing, is it possible to experience something new and unknown? Can our thinking construct knowledge based on what our senses tell us, and can that be used to judge the world and draw conclusions about what we call reality? What is the basis of our thinking and judgement? Are our bodies capable of true sensory perception? Are we perhaps lost in a time where stimuli come from the prevailing politics, fashion and culture, such that we fail to cherish what our own senses and experiences tell us?

This joint project embodies UCCA's ongoing commitment to creating possibilities for dialogue between the experiences of different cultures and UCCA's effort to provide a platform where different fields of mental endeavour can meet and mutually inspire.

Guo Xiaoyan
UCCA Chief Curator


In Feelings are facts (2010), Olafur Eliasson and Ma Yansong challenge our everyday patterns of spatial orientation. Vision functions as our primary, default sense for navigation, but this expansive installation induces initial insecurity in its visitors by radically reducing visibility, thereby suggesting the need to invent new models for perception. Basing this project on a series of previous experiments with atmospheric density, Eliasson introduces condensed banks of artificially produced fog into the gallery, whose dimensions have been further altered by substantially lowering the ceiling and constructing an inclined wooden floor. Hundreds of fluorescent lights are installed in the ceiling as a grid of red, green, and blue zones. By permeating the fog, these lights create coloured walk-through spaces that, in Eliasson's words, function to "make the volume of the space explicit." The coloured zones introduce a scale of measurement in the gallery, their varying size and organization referencing urban planning grids. At each colour boundary, two hues blend to create transitional slivers of cyan, magenta, and yellow. Walking through the dense, illuminated atmosphere, visitors can navigate by using this intuitive colour atlas. Another means of navigation is the floor construction. Whereas movement on a plane sur face can be effortlessly accomplished, the sloping floor challenges visitors to readjust their balance, constantly having to shift their weight and body posture to counterbalance the inclination. This fact emphasizes the crucial role of the moving body in our perception of our surroundings. The further visitors venture into the space, the steeper the floor gets, until the point where it becomes a wave-like curved wall. Since the ceiling imitates this construction, a seemingly boundless space is discerned above.

Olafur Eliasson


Space and light bring life into existence. There is no space, unless given light and boundary. Space has never existed, but rather exists only in the specific feelings it induces. Space in reality, exists only in sensuality. With expanding desire, everything is managed with utmost efficiency. Our feelings and sensibilities are seeing facts in the context of habituated life. Not until shutting our eyes, can we feel the world from within, space and light will touch your soul.

Ma Yansong