Blog / Little Sun


By J Caldwell

We have been transfixed with the interplay of light in Olafur Eliasson’s The uncertain museum. It is staggering to think that four glass discs set into rotation and illuminated with a single light source can produce such a myriad of dynamic patterns. A visitor said “looking at this makes me feel like I have been set in motion, like I am floating off the floor.”

Eliasson, who is from Iceland, a country shrouded in darkness for 6 months out of the years, often considers light and how it can fill a space. By way of conversation with co-creator, friend and engineer Frederik Ottesen, the pair mused over their own personal relationship with light and how much of a profound impact it has on all of life. Indeed, one-quarter of the Earth’s population is without light Eliasson sought to address the beauty and utility of light. It was from here that Little Sun was born. Little Sun is a wearable objet d’art, a solar powered light that emits 5 hours of so-called “little sunlight” after 5 hours of sunlight charging that Eliasson hopes will provide much needed light “where energy is unavailable or unreliable, not affordable or not sustainable.” This lightweight creation boasts a 3 year lifespan and is an affordable and healthier solution than kerosense lamps. Little Sun is equal parts call to action and art.

Little Sun has been embraced by Tate Modern “in order to raise awareness about the need to improve access to energy for the 1.6 billion people who do not have access to the electrical grid.” Their approach: after closing hours at Tate Modern the lights are turned off and visitors are able to view the Surrealist and Realist art with only the light from their Little Suns. These Tate Blackouts are quickly selling out, but Eliasson has a much broader scope in mind by bringing Little Sun to the London Olympics. He said: “Over the years, I have been absorbed by phenomena such as light, time, the negotiation of space, compassion and the relation between body, mind, and action. Little Sun brings these different strands of my work together – this is a very important step for me. By bringing Little Sun to Tate Modern and the London Olympics, I hope to realise an art project for those who typically have no access to global events of this scale.”

Learn much more about Little Sun and the Tate Blackouts on

IMAGE: video still from Olafur Eliasson “Little Sun

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