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April 23, 2004

oh, art

Posted by dogpossum on April 23, 2004 5:53 PM in the category clicky


two things, really.
first, they've got this interesting exhibition on at the tate modern in london - that picture is taken inside the turbine hall, where "The Weather Project", by olafur eliasson has proved extra popular with londoners.
basically, they set up that huge space to look like a room with the sun in it. seems brits went nuts over it - just get crazy for the big warm looking ness of it...

the other thing - one of the guys working in the gallery kept a diary in the Guardian, where he talks about the exhibition.
it's interesting stuff.

i've cut-and-pasted the entries into this entry so it doesn't get lost. but make sure you go to the site - i'm sure i've contravened copyright doing this. it's best to go to the site, really - nicer to read.

i loved the the tate mod. it's facinating. i love old factories that have been made into public spaces - the power house in bris (look here for a truly horrible website that almost gives you an idea of the thing. goddamn hack IT designer people. or here for a photo by john linkins from the site) is another fave. i was utterly stunned by the tate mod in london - it's so BIG.

and it sounds like this 'weather' exhibition is making interesting use of all that space. and of the brits' weirdo weather obsession... which can be understood. they don't see the sun in england, in winter. well, they do a bit, but it's pale and far away. and not really sunny.

Secret diary of an art gallery attendant

They came in Santa outfits, with picnics - even a canoe. On the eve of its removal, Adrian Hardwicke recalls how people reacted to The Weather Project

Thursday March 18, 2004
The Guardian

Unearthly: Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project at Tate Modern. Photo: Dan Chung

October 9 2003

One week left until the opening of the next installation in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Olafur Eliasson's Weather Project seems to be going well, although it's not without its hiccups: suspending a mirrored ceiling more than 100ft above the floor is proving tricky. I've been involved in blacking out the Turbine Hall's huge windows. We did various trials; in one, tape and vinyl were applied directly to the glass. Next morning, I arrived at the gallery - and found the tape was already peeling off. A bit of a panic ensued before the decision was made to use vinyl and paint. It's amazing how if even the tiniest bit of window is missed, it has a profound effect inside the Turbine Hall. I feel like an air-raid warden in the Blitz looking for chinks of light.

October 13

Eliasson wants his project to remain absolutely secret, and so fencing has been installed to prevent anybody seeing into the area. Of course, this just encourages the intrepid visitor to try to find a way in, to see what's going on. I even saw someone getting a lift on another person's shoulders and holding up their camera. The fencing that has been used is fairly basic and I can't quite believe that I have allowed the place to be turned into such a building site. First-time visitors must be bewildered by what is going on.

October 16

Yesterday's opening party was very successful, if bizarre. A few hundred people, enveloped in a theatrical haze, stood sipping cocktails, eating canapes and staring at a giant artificial sun and at themselves in the mirrored ceiling. The light was drained from their features, making it hard to recognise them. A strange experience.

October 20

The commission has attracted a massive amount of media interest, and, as a result, thousands of people are flocking to Tate Modern. The most extraordinary things are happening, things I'm sure no one, least of all the artist, ever envisaged. Visitors are making their way to the end of the Turbine Hall and lying on the floor, using their bodies to make shapes and form words - some predictably obscene - which they can then see in the mirror above them. They are even spelling out website addresses. It has resulted in the most extraordinary social interaction taking place between complete strangers.

October 24

I can't quite believe the droves and droves of people that are coming into the Turbine Hall. It is very unusual for this level of interest to be sustained beyond the initial publicity drive. The work is having all sorts of effects on people - not least a disgruntled member of staff, who decided to write to the newspapers saying that the theatrical haze included a hallucinogenic drug and that we were poisoning everyone. This sort of thing is mildly irritating, to say the least. In fact, the haze is made of just sugar and water, but inevitably there will be people who believe the allegations and Dennis Ahern, the Tate's safety and security manager, has had to go into overdrive to counter that.

November 20

President Bush is due to arrive in the UK for a whirlwind visit. I got a call to go down to the Turbine Hall as we had a number of anti-Bush protesters in. There were about 30 or 40 people, accompanied by a couple of photographers, who wanted to spell out "GO HOME BUSH". At first I thought they were going to manage only "GO HO BU", which wouldn't have been quite as powerful. But eventually enough people joined in. Wild applause broke out for a few minutes and then the protesters went on to their next venue.

November 28

Just when you think you've seen everything . . . A couple are intimately engaged beyond what I would normally expect in a public space. There are passionate moments, and then there are passionate moments. I point them out to my colleague Adrian Jackson and we decide we have got to do something. We flip a coin. He loses and I have great fun watching him tap the gentleman on the shoulder and asking them to break it up. They get up and go off, rather sheepish behind their brazen smiles.

December 15

I arrive at work to be told by a colleague that he has had to cope with a delegation of 50 people dressed as Santa Claus, all descending into the Turbine Hall, ringing bells and making merry. I am convinced he is exaggerating - until I see a photograph on the local community website.

The great thing about this installation is the way in which it seems to make everybody happy. It cuts across all boundaries; young and old alike lie on the floor and gaze at their reflections in the ceiling mirror. At busy times - particularly at the weekend - it is fun to see people try to spot themselves. It seems that families have cottoned on to the fact that it makes a fabulous children's playground. Kids tear around the room having fun - and no doubt get home completely exhausted.

What's also amazing is how much litter people leave. Cleaners are forever having to sweep up discarded cans, sweet wrappers and leaflets. A visitor called me over today to show me that someone had kindly left us an apple. Was this supposed to have some meaning?

January 5 2004

The number of people who got digital cameras for Christmas must be astronomical; flashes are going off every second as people contort themselves into weird and wonderful positions to get the best possible photo. If the person being photographed stands in the right place with their arms aloft, it looks as if they are holding up the sun. That's my favourite shot.

January 12

On Friday night I was surprised to see a couple picnicking. They weren't just having a sandwich but had brought in all the essential ingredients - including a rug, a large picnic hamper, champagne and what looked like a wonderful home-baked pie. I was very tempted to ask if I could join them.

January 20

The strangest moment yet - a visitor brought in his blow-up canoe and sat there surrounded by strangers pretending to paddle towards the sun. He seemed quite an ordinary man, middle-aged and reasonably well dressed. He packed up and moved on after 15 minutes.

February 14

I was convinced people would get together and form a heart for Valentine's Day, but it wasn't to be. How disappointing.

February 23

Over two million visitors have been to Tate Modern since October 22 - the installation has resulted in the busiest November, December, January and February since the gallery opened. The sun acts as an amazing draw: people sit facing it as though it were emanating warmth on these cold winter days. The Saturday and Sunday of half-term week saw over 25,000 people visit on each day. The Turbine Hall looked like Brighton beach on a bank holiday. I'm certain we could have sold everybody ice-creams and sunblock, despite the freezing temperatures.

March 5

I'm called down to the Turbine Hall at about 7.30pm to witness a dance group who have decided to hold their class at Tate Modern. What I see is 20 people indulging in what seems to me a very strange performance. A member of staff tells me that this activity apparently originated in America and is a mixture of spirituality, exercise and dance. They are certainly enjoying themselves - and entertaining the other visitors. All their activity is improvised and they start as a group before splitting into pairs. The great thing is that they remain silent and don't spoil the experience for anybody else, so I let them carry on.

March 7

Victor Ferreiro, one of the gallery assistants, calls on the radio and asks me to meet a visitor who wants to play his didgeridoo in the gallery. I pop down to explain that although he may be very good, the noise is likely to interfere with everybody else's enjoyment so I have to refuse his request.

March 12

The installation is drawing to a close and we've decided to mark the event by keeping the Turbine Hall open until 1am on the final weekend. An opportunity to see the midnight sun. It should be a fascinating end to what has been an extraordinary work of art. In many ways I will be sad to see it go, although there is a sense in which it will be nice to have daylight flooding back into the space. I miss the wonderful way shadows fall through the lancet windows on to the Turbine Hall floor.

Each of the artists in the Unilever Series has had their own particular approach. I wonder what Bruce Nauman is planning for his October installation? Apparently he is going to use sound in some way.

· Adrian Hardwicke is the front of house manager at Tate Modern. The Weather Project is at Tate Modern, London SE1, until Sunday; on Friday and Saturday it closes at 1am. Details: 020-7887 8000.

Posted by dogpossum on April 23, 2004 5:53 PM in the category clicky