Circular shelters and rings placed in a desert landscape

Shadows Travelling on the Sea of the Day by Olafur Eliasson

This site-specific installation located in the desert just north of Al Zubarah explores how our perception of the world informs our relationship with reality.

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The work of Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson (b. 1967) explores the role that our perception of the world plays in how we co-produce reality. At his Berlin studio, Eliasson works together with a diverse team of specialized craftsmen, architects, researchers and art historians to create his wide-ranging artistic practice. His installations, sculptures, paintings and photographs often draw from ephemeral materials – like water, fog and light – to enlist the viewer in actively shaping the experience.

The twenty circular shelters, three single rings and two double rings that make up this site-specific artwork appear at first glance to be scattered about the desert landscape at random. They are, however, positioned according to the axes of a fivefold symmetrical pattern, with the ten shelters at the center forming a pentagram.

The underside of the circular roofs is covered with mirror panels, reflecting the curved segment of pipe that supports the roof. This creates a visual illusion of the pipes doubling into full rings, linking the real landscape with the reflected space. Visitors standing in the shade of the roofs may experience a moment of disorientation, glimpsing themselves and their surroundings reflected upside down in the roofs above.