Olafur Eliasson Extension Cord, 2004

Olafur Eliasson, 10 Meter Cable For All Colours, 2004, ed. 4/100, at Bruun-Rasmussen 14 Nov 2023

This custom woven, 10-meter extension cord in an edition of 100 is absolutely one of my favorite Olafur Eliasson editions, because it is an extension cord.

360° room for all colours [including the bisexual ones], 2002, installed at Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, 2004, photo: Jens Ziehe via olafureliasson.net

I haven’t ever asked why it exists, but the title, 10 Meter Cable For All Colours and the date, 2004, suggest a connection to Olafur’s 2002 work, 360° room for all colours. This curving spatial structure is filled with red, green and blue lights that shift through all the colours. It was first shown in Paris in 2002, and then in the 2004 Your Lighthouse: Works of Light, 1991-2004 at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, which opened in the glare of Olafur’s Tate Turbine Hall project.

installation view zoomed in on lightbulbs and cables at Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2004, image: Alexander Krauss via olafureliasson.net

This unusual top-down installation view of a work which typically had a scrim ceiling shows not only the tightly packed lightbulbs in the wall, but also a thick bundle of extension cords to power them, running up and out of site.

While this work might account for why Olafur had several kilometers of electrical cable lying around the studio, it still doesn’t explain why there’s an edition. My guess would be that a few spools of leftover cable were transformed from surplus into artwork by whatever that mysterious process is, and they were given to employees, friends, and whoever. There is a whole body of this kind of small, interpersonal edition that grows out of the studio’s practice and relationships, and I think it’s just neat.

This example, for sale in a couple of weeks at Bruun-Rasmussen in Denmark, is ed. 4/100, perhaps from someone at the top of the artist’s list. [B-R offered ed. 1/100 in 2012, which was somehow not deluxe enough to reach the DKK 30000 estimate. The current example is expected to sell for DKK6000, under USD1000, which feels like the right balance of reasonable and ridiculous, but most importantly, not too expensive to put it right to actual use.]