James Turrell: SKY-SPACE
In conjunction with the fifth Salzburg Art Project, the American artist James Turrell, renowned for his installations in light, has created a “SKY-SPACE” on Mönchsberg mountain. This is a walk-in art space in the shape of an elliptical cylinder which has seating for visitors along the walls and is open to the sky at the top. The visible excerpt of the sky with its variations in light and color becomes an integral part of the work.
The natural play of light, the changing angle of the sun’s rays, and the cloud formations visible through the roof aperture at various times of day, lead to ever-new visual perceptions and impressions. The “SKY-SPACE” is especially compelling at dawn and twilight. Light becomes part of the architecture, can be physically experienced, and has the effect of a trompe-l’œil. By means of subtle changes in the color of the artificial light shed by concealed fluorescent lamps encircling the dazzling white interior, the artist succeeds in intensifying this visual experience still further.
A former pilot, Turrell is intrigued by the sky, and translates this fascination very precisely into art by simple yet subtle means. His “SKY-SPACE” is a solemn place that models light in a sensational way, like a sculpture. It confronts the viewer with a moving visual interplay of nature, architecture, and technology.
The “SKY-SPACE” is 9.20 x 7.20 x 8.36 meters in size. It is constructed of conglomerate (“nagelfluh”), the natural rock of which the Mönchsberg consists. The choice of this site is meaningful in other respects as well. Near the Museum of Modern Art, a short walk from Mario Merz’s “Numbers in the Woods,” the 2003 Salzburg Art Project, Turrell has created his own house of art, yet one that stands for itself and is a work of art in its own right, in which light, nature, and viewers are integrated in a process of continual change – art as part of an eternal cycle.