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James Turrell’s Skyspace in Uruguay

entrance to Skyspace Ta Khut by James Turrell

The impressive entrance to Skyspace Ta Khut.
Image courtesy of: Vogue, photographed by: Tali Kimelman

No one would suspect that a new luxury resort that just opened in Uruguay would be the home of James Turrell’s newest Skyspace installation. Turrell, one of the world’s premier artists, commonly uses light to create large works-of-art. Specifically, he is a master at producing pieces that manipulate light in order to amplify perception.

It might seem strange to head to South America in order to experience Turrell’s first freestanding Skyspace; however there is a logical reason. Ta Khut (meaning “light” in early Egyptian) was commissioned by Robert and Edda Kofler after they experienced Turrell’s pieces at the James Turrell Museum- The Hess Art Collection at ColomĂ© in Argentina and “Skyspace Lech” in the Australian Alps.

Skyspace TaK hut by James Turrell Sunset View

The absolutely best way to catch a sunset.
Image courtesy of: Thrillist

Skyspace Ta Khut is one of several dozen thought-provoking installations that Turrell has placed around the world. These “meditation chambers” are mind-bending and seamlessly transport audiences to another world via the power of light.

Turrell designs his installations so that they activate (courtesy of Guggenheim Museum) “a heightened sensory awareness that promotes discovery: what seems to be a lustrous, suspended cube is actually the conjunction of two flat panels of projected light; a rectangle of radiant color hovering in front of a wall is really a deep, illuminated depression in the space; a velvety black square on the ceiling is, in reality, a portal to the night sky.” The result is an important side effect… one that causes self-reflection.

Skyspace Ta Khut by James Turrell

Turrell’s work has been called “life-changing.”
Image courtesy of: Galerie Magazine, photographed by: Tali Kimelman

Ta Khut’s home is Posado Ayana, in Jose Ignacio… a beautiful, elevated beach town in Uruguay. The luxury hotel is owned by Robert and Edda Kofler, a couple from Vienna who love art and have followed Turrell and his work around the globe. The couple, who also have an impressive collection of art by female Uruguayan artists, knew that placing Turrell’s inspiring work in a location with the most beautiful skies was bound to be inspirational.

They were correct! Courtesy of a Galerie Magazine article by Rita Suqi, “Two years in the making, the white marble dome sits atop a pyramid-shaped, templelike structure clad in earth and grass, with entrances on two sides.” Entering the domed structure via a monumental door, the feeling of anticipation is omnipresent.

Skyspace Ta Khut by James Turrell

Last year, Skyscape Ta Khut was declared a National Site of Interest by Uruguay’s Ministry of Education and Culture.
Image courtesy of: The Plan

The installation was designed to resemble a “Stupa,” an ancient hemispherical form found in Buddhist art. The dome stands as a rectangular temple covered with greenery and with an open-air corridor between the two distinct structures. Skyspace Ta Khut was constructed from white Lasa Marmo marble which comes from Italy’s South Tyrol region. Turrell was asked to “carve out” a sliver of sky inside the circular structure that measures 31 feet across and 25.5 feet high; the marble weighs 42 tons.

The doors are made of a Paraguayan Lapacho wood and the floor is a merlot granite. The marble is a connection to Rober Kofler’s childhood summers that were spent in Italy. The materials were chosen for two important reasons… one was due to the property’s eco-sustainable ethos and two was because these commodities met the dome’s unique structural requirements.

James Turrell and the Kofler family.

James Turrell and the Kofler family.
The 20-foot dome was constructed using 90,000 pounds of white marble.
Image courtesy of: Thrillist

All in all, there is a total of 101 Skyspaces throughout the world. Turrell says that he was (courtesy of Travel + Leisure), “inspired by the ancient Egyptians, and their reverence for light, in the creation of the work: visitors walk through towering lapacho-wood doors into a Merlot-granite passageway, as if entering the inner chambers of a pyramid (or the earth itself).” Similarly, once inside visitors will find a blue-marble relief of the Galactic Center, the brightest portion of the Milky Way, embedded in the floor and on a clear night, look up to see the same galaxy framed through Turrell’s oculus.