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Olafur Eliasson interview: ‘The idea that you can be the happiest person in the world? Dreadful’

Olafur Eliasson's exhibition In Real Life is at Tate Modern until Jan 5 2020
Olafur Eliasson's exhibition In Real Life is at Tate Modern until Jan 5 2020 Credit: Tate

High above the wooden floor of Olafur Eliasson’s Copenhagen studio, a stuffed peacock is perched on the lintel, an owl hunched beside it. I wonder what their beady, dust-grimed eyes make of the scene below: the unicycle, or the pictures of dodecahedrons taped to the wall, or Eliasson himself, quiffed and mustachioed, jiggling his knee.

On the May afternoon we meet, the Danish-Icelandic artist is preparing for an exhibition at Tate Modern: around 40 of his works, old and new, are already making their way to London, and Eliasson says he wonders if they are also travelling in time, to meet us in the here and now. 

“Though, that is perhaps a bit mathematical,” he adds, grinning. “Is this in any bloody...

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