Friday, February 8, 2008

Olafur Eliasson's Art Helps Us See How Being Pilgrims on Pilgrimage Changes the Physical World

When I am on pilgrimage, walking through the wine country of northern Spain, sitting on the edge of desert oasis in the middle of the Sinai Peninsula, or rambling around the Basilica in Equipulas before the statue of the Black Christ, I do not necessarily think about how my foot step (more than a carbon footstep) changes the physical world in which I and we live.

Olafur Eliasson, an Icelandic artist, changed all that for me. He takes materials found in the natural landscape, like light, air, water, and moss, and puts them to the service of art work in which we are immersed and changed. We see in his art our impact upon the very structure of the world in which we live and have our being.

At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, his installed works of art are on display: I walked on creaky wood boards that caused a screen in front of me to show ripples of vibrations from my footstep. I stood next to a gentlemen before a screen of falling misty water, and as he simply waved his sweater at the exhibit, the water danced and moved in beautiful spirited arches, dips, and curves.

As Sr. Stef Weisgram reminds me, on pilgrimage, we do not only walk through the land, but the land leaves its mark upon us as well.

Bien Camino!

Pilgrim peace,