I know it rains a lot in London, but you have to wonder if Olafur Eliasson is playing a joke—the Danish-Icelandic artist has installed a "Rain Window" (Regenfenster, 1999) inside the Tate Modern just as summer begins. Eliasson has previous experience when it comes to playing with the weather in England. In 2003, The Weather Project illuminated the Tate's Turbine Hall with a miniature "sun" to create a sunset-like haze in the former power station and attracted some two million visitors. Sixteen years on, Eliasson is back. Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life, the Tate Modern's latest retrospective of the artist, pulls together 38 works dating back to 1990 through to today. While none are as exhilarating as the 2003 show, however, Eliasson is still able to able to tantalize the senses. Fitting that many of Eliasson's works into one exhibition was no mean feat, and not all of them can be found inside. Waterfall, from 2019, is the most impressive, and as its name suggests, water cascades down from a 36-foot-tall scaffold structure. It seems like an informal emphatic start. It's odd then, that In Real Life actually begins inside passed ticketed doors with a glass box of geometric models. The work, Model Room, collates some 450 models, the result of Eliasson's collaboration with Icelandic artist, mathematician, and architect Einar Thorsteinn. They're not bad by any stretch, but this isn't the stellar stuff one expects. Thankfully more, much more, in fact, lies around the corner. Audiences are encouraged to touch—but not grab—a giant wall of Scandinavian moss stretching 65 feet. The work dates back to 1994 and presumably, new moss has been installed. Here we find the aforementioned Regenfenster too, though, if you didn't know it was a work dating back to 1999, it could easily be mistaken for a leaking pipe (Now that you're in the know, keep an ear out for people questioning: "Is it really raining outside?"). In the same room is The Seeing Space, a circular viewing portal nestled into a wall which lets viewers approach and peer into a room of what seems to be nothingness. Walk around though, and it's revealed that The Seeing Space is a ruse, another Eliasson joke, for one's face is focused in on and unflatteringly framed on the other side. As a result, you have to immediately go back and ask someone to film you, to see just how embarrassing it was. It's not going to be good. This is what Eliasson is best at, creating stuff that's fun, and there's more of that to come, as squeals of delight from around the corner forewarn us of. The sound, you find out, is of children running through shimmering heavy mist that has had a spectrum of color projected onto it. The work is called Beauty, with good reason, and is for anyone daring enough to let go of their apprehensions and enjoy themselves at the cost of getting mildly damp. More interactive art follows. Your Blind Passenger, the exhibition's pièce de résistance (if fellow visitors' Instagrams are to tell us anything), is a 130-foot-long journey through dense fog. It's certainly visceral—you can only see five feet ahead—and along the corridor, the fog's color gently changes from white to yellow and finally blue. While other exhibits are best enjoyed with a partner, it's best to experience the passage alone to get the full feeling of discombobulation. In Eliasson's native tongue the work is called Din Blinde Passager, the Danish term for a stowaway, for who captivity in the artist's work is pretty sweet, literally so; the fog vapour is sugar-based. Your Blind Passenger is from 2010, the same year Eliasson produced Your Uncertain Shadow (Color). More fun for the young and young at heart is on display here: dance in front of an array of colored lights to see your silhouette, duplicated and overlapped in pastel hues. Unlike Your Blind Passenger, this piece seems to scream the more the merrier. Aside from that, the rest of the works follow the tone set by Model Room. Mirrors have been cleverly used in a few, such as Your Planetary Window—another portal in a wall, which you can see yourself in. Big Bang Fountain is also noteworthy; the 2014 work is set in a black room and harder to navigate than Your Blind Passenger, and uses flashes of light to illuminate bursts from a small water fountain. Don't bother trying to take a picture on your phone, and don't dare use a flash. In Real Life doesn't dazzle with every turn, but for the moments of genuine playfulness and engagement, the show is well worth it. Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life runs through January 5, 2020.
Posts tagged with "Tate Modern":
In 1995, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron burst on to the scene winning commission to design the Tate Modern art museum in London. Their design, which saw the adaptive reuse of Giles Gilbert Scott's Bankside Power Station prompted surprise, not for what they did, but for what they didn't do. Retaining the industrial 20th century factory aesthetic, the building has come to compound the Tate's image as an artistic powerhouse under director Nicholas Serota. 4.2 million brinks comprise the building's facade, however, inside a vast central hall adds a theatrical aspect to the building. Speaking to architecture critic Rowan Moore of The Observer, de Meuron said that the hall was “not in the brief, there was no requirement to have it, but it was given by the building. It created a wholly new way of showing art.” http://uds.ak.o.brightcove.com/1854890877/1854890877_26518417001_Herzog-BC-640-ws.mp4 - “I don’t want to sound arrogant,” added Herzog after more than twenty years of reflection, “but that was a stroke of genius.” Whether you agree with him or not, him and de Meuron's success has garnered them international acclaim and now their latest foray at Bankside is taking shape. Due to open on June 17 this year, the firm's $377 million Tate Modern extension—known as the Switch House—will see a 60 percent increase in floor space for the institution. With work having started in 2007, the "extension" would have taken longer and cost more than their original work for the Tate.
"In the proto-Blair era they were considered minimal, rarely straying from straight lines and right angles," writes Moore, though the Switch House instead relies on an oblique style showcased on a scale reminiscent to the likes of Claude Parent. Rising 213 feet to counter the iconic Bankside chimney and accommodating 11 floors, the angular structure will utilize a perforated brick lattice to match the existing structure.
- Unlike with Scott's former power station, where Herzog and de Meuron made use of vertical fenestration, their new addition to the Tate will employ horizontal windows that partially wrap round the structure. The aspect of reuse however, will be maintained. Oil tanks that were originally used for the power station prior to its decommission in 1981 will become "closely associated with the new building" to preserve and further the rugged rough-edged charm that its sister structure has.
A "vertical boulevard" will also be included in the extension. Coined as such by de Meuron, the space is essentially an oversized staircase that provides circulation to the new galleries embedded in the original power station. Larger space for temporary exhibits has also been catered for meanwhile the inclusion of the "Tate Exchange" will facilitate group discussion in seminar spaces and a Media Lab. “High attendance is fantastic for a museum but not always for you as a visitor,” said de Meuron. “Sometimes you need to be more quiet and peaceful. You need different experiences and different speeds, a variety of activity. The stairs are wider than we need them; we want to invite people to have a different kind of experience than to rush from one gallery to another. I am curious to see how people walk about it.”
Alternative circulation is a prominent them within the extension's design. New galleries will incorporate dead ends and others will be solo spaces all to prompt, as Moore explains, "random patterns of exploration, and unpredictable combinations of eddies and stillness." http://players.brightcove.net/e2d28453-3b98-45ec-a753-6574d2b2e050.mp4 Rising up through the building, a Members Room, Level 10 restaurant, and public terrace on the top floor will act as social hubs while offering expansive views over the thames, and as fellow critic Oliver Wainwright points out, into the pricey flats of Richard Rogers' Neo Bankside residences.
Tate extension makes a good vantage point for spying on the £20m flats of Neo Bankside 👀 pic.twitter.com/QsW5A2xIEY — Olly Wainwright (@ollywainwright) May 12, 2016
The outspoken Chinese architect and artist Ai Weiwei has been selected by the Tate Modern as the 11th person to create a work for its massive Turbine Hall in London. A known figure in China and the west, Ai lived in New York for many years and attended the Parsons School of Design before going on to collaborate on projects such as the Beijing National Stadium (with Herzog & de Meuron) at the 2008 Summer Olympics, and was included in the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, where he collaborated (also with H&deM) on a sprawling installation of bamboo poles and chairs set akimbo. One of the most politically engaged architects and artists working today, Ai has often run afowl of Chinese authorities, and was recently beaten by Chengdu police for drawing attention to shoddy construction that contributed to the death of over 5,000 children in a Sichuan earthquake. He is also a compelling form-maker whose installation work often straddles the line between architecture and art, and seems to have the power to stand up to challenging spaces like the Tate’s vast South Bank space, itself of course created within the shell of an old power plant by Herzog & de Meuron. The installation is sponsored by Unilever, and will open next October.