Contentious Olafur Eliasson Olympics Proposal Rejected

london 2012 Festival


Despite the huge success of his Tate Turbine Hall Weather Project, Olympics organisers have rejected an application by Scandinavian artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson had been commissioned to create a piece for the London 2012 Festival with a budget of £1 million. The piece was meant to explore the benefits of taking a deep breath.

But, upon coming up with a proposal titled ‘Take A Deep Breath’, the Olympic Lottery Distributor (OLD) has now denied Eliasson the grant on the grounds that his idea failed to meet the criteria. The OLD had been approached by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, who put forward Eliasson to create an outdoor-based project for the London 2012 Festival. Initially enthusiastic, Eliasson’s proposal was a disappointment.

According to the minutes of its February board meeting, the OLD bosses ‘expressed concern that this particular commission had changed significantly since its inception’: ‘The Board did not find the revised proposals particularly attractive – and were aware of the possibility that the commission would be contentious.’ In consequence, the Board ‘struggled to justify the £1 million sought in relation to the outputs – it seemed very expensive’.

Olafur Eliasson’s project would have seen member of the public invited to breathe in and out on behalf of ‘a person, a movement or a cause’: they would then record their experience on a website in a personal ‘breath bubble’. The artist is now working on a new idea to be funded by other sources. Details of this new work will be revealed next month.

The Olympic Lottery Distributor has been given a £16.5m budget for the Cultural Olympiad – the cultural complement to the world’s biggest sporting event. It is answerable to Parliament in how it uses the money to invest in the Olympics and Paralympics.

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