<h1>David Claerbout Olympia</h1>

Olympia (The real time disintegration into ruins of the Berlin Olympic stadium over the course of a thousand years)

The Belgian artist David Claerbout (born 1969) ranks among the most distinctive figures of contemporary international video art.  With the aid of video and digital photography, his artistic practice in particular investigates the conceptual effects of the flow of time. He also makes use of videogame technologies, as in the case of his 2016 video projection Olympia (The Real-Time Disintegration into Ruins of the Berlin Olympic Stadium over the Course of a Thousand Years) that will be on view at Galerie Rudolfinum until 12 April 2020.

David Claerbout’s video projection Olympia (The Real-Time Disintegration into Ruins of the Berlin Olympic Stadium over the Course of a Thousand Years) is a real-time virtual record depicting the gradual and relentless disintegration of the Nazi Stadium in Berlin, built on Hitler’s orders for the 1936 Summer Olympics. The monumental projection on two surfaces, programmed for a thousand-year period, shows how nature reduces the monstrous stadium into a ruin without any human intervention whatsoever.

“The work does not contain any direct criticism of the Third Reich, it merely points to time itself as a form of retribution. One may view Olympia also as an attempt to contrast biological persistence – the span of a single human lifetime, for instance – with an ideological construction, which applies especially within the context of the Nazi era in reference to Hitler’s desire to build a thousand-year empire, as well as the related theory regarding the value of ruins and derelict structures constructed by the main Nazi architect Albert Speer,” says Petr Nedoma, the exhibition curator and director of Galerie Rudolfinum.

The main horizontal projection shows images captured by the movement of a virtual camera around the main space of the stadium, while the second, vertical projection focuses on monumentalised details such as the sculptures of athletes, the building’s ornamentation, the landscape, and so on.

With the aid of videogame technology and the digital reproduction of the architecture of the stadium, the artist has created a virtual world deprived of life. Even though these images conspicuously lack any human element, it is at least present in the form of the changing life cycle. Over the course of the projection we can observe the growth of weeds “irrigated” by a computer programme that reacts with precision to data on the current state of the weather and the position of the sun in Berlin. The algorithmically calculated process generates new images of growth and decline on a daily basis.

Claerbout’s artwork is presented as part of the long-term new media focused series Rudolfinum_Time-Based.

Curator: Petr Nedoma

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