Shadows travelling on the sea of the day, © Olafur Eliasson
Shadows travelling on the sea of the day, © Olafur Eliasson

In the desert outside of Al Zubarah and Ain Mohammed heritage sites, north of Doha, internationally acclaimed artist Olafur Eliasson has unveiled Shadows travelling on the sea of the day, a specially commissioned artwork, just a weeks before the opening of FIFA World Cup 2022, held in Qatar.

It is a rarefied architecture, barely hinted at, which in the desert light – seen from afar – appears like a mirage. And which is only completed when seen up close, in the shadow of its mirrored canopies: the landscape is doubled, the semicircles that make up its structure are completed in their reflection and become closed forms.

The structure becomes like a gigantic three-dimensional drawing, a play of curves in space that overlaps the landscape in a delicate, respectful way. The artist wants viewers to realize that when they look up, they actually look back down. It is an invitation for travelers to contemplate their connection to the ground.

“It is an invitation to resync with the planet”, Eliasson explains. “It is a celebration of everything being in and moving through the desert site north of Doha – animals, plants, and human beings; stories, traditions, and cultural artefacts; wind, sunlight, air, and shimmering heat”.

Artist: Olafur Eliasson
Photo credits: © Iwan Baan. Courtesy of the artist and Qatar Museums; Neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles. © 2022 Olafur Eliasson