‘To me, going to the Biennale has always been about going deeper into reality, not about exiting reality,’ says Olafur Eliasson. Together with Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Eliasson reminds us of the sociopolitical power of collaboration, be it on a small or large scale.

Eliasson’s Green Light – An Artistic Workshop operates on both: the project is part of an ongoing series of workshops taking place across the globe, in which asylum seekers, refugees and other members of the public build Green Light lamps and engage with Shared Learning, the educational program developed by TBA21. The free events that constitute the artistic workshops encourage civic engagement and tackle issues of migration, citizenship, statelessness, arrival, memory and belonging from multiple perspectives, prompting exchanges of knowledge, experiences and values.


The Green Light project welcomes 40 participants from various social and cultural backgrounds, who lead daily lamp-building workshops and act as hosts in the space, engaging with biennale visitors. Designed by Eliasson, the LED lamps – which are largely comprised of recycled, sustainable materials – are stackable. This makes them suitable not only for individual use, but also for assembling into sculptural configurations. The sentiment speaks of both the collective nature of their production and the novelty that can arise from cooperation.


‘Mass displacement and migration are core challenges in the world today, affecting millions of people around the globe,’ says Eliasson. While such issues are endemic, Green Light workshops address them in a personalized fashion. For the 57th Venice Biennale workshop, Eliasson designed bespoke Green Light tables and shelves. Based on the geometry of the light’s module, the additional pieces communicate the project’s adaptable nature according to context.

This notion of openness also suffuses the work of Danish artist Kirstine Roepstorff, whose immersive installation influenza. theatre of glowing darkness mobilizes shade, light projections, glass, sound and a recorded dialogue to reflect on the concept of darkness. Roepstorff’s project considers a lack of light not as a dead end, but rather as a productive force of healing and reconciliation, and encourages change through openness to new ways of thinking.


The artist uses the Danish Pavilion and its gardens and physically opens up their borders: she removes windows and walls to break the boundaries between inner self and outside world, national and foreign, culture and nature, and art and life. This gesture of openness shines light on both the continuity between such allegedly contrasting notions as well as on the points of departure opened up by darkness’s dissolution of the limitations of form.