Ai Weiwei gave us porcelain sunflower seeds, Oliafur Eliasson gave us digitised weather, but this is the first time the Turbine Hall has seen a living, breathing patch of earth.
Empty Lot, the creation of the (wonderfully named) Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas, is a sculpture, ‘a portrait of London’, which incorporates soil and compost from the parks of the capital. From Regent’s Park to Peckham Rye, via Buckingham Palace, over 23 tonnes of the stuff have been transported to the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall exhibition space. The earth is held within an enormous grid of triangular plant-pots, which sit atop vast platforms.
Nothing is deliberately planted, and the museum is apparently ‘thrilled’ that a mushroom and several weeds have emerged in the last few days. We’re able to walk underneath the scaffolding of these platforms, as well as viewing them from above. The structures are lit by lampposts forged from ‘found objects’ – random pieces of material, scavenged by the artist.
Cruzvillegas is well known for creating sculpture from found objects. This ‘self-construction’, refers to the way Mexicans of his parents’ generation arriving in the capital from rural areas in the 1960s, built their dwellings in stages, with whatever materials they could find.
The installation - half allotment, half artwork- is a beguiling testament to London and its fabric. We love the fact that it’s left to chance. At the moment it's slightly funereal, like fresh-dug graves. But we can’t wait to see what London’s soils have sprouted by the time it’s pulled apart, next Spring. The trouble with the Turbine Hall has always been how on earth to fill such a vast space. Why not fill it, then, with living earth itself; with something that will grow.
|What||Empty Lot, Turbine Hall - Tate Modern|
|Where||Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Southwark (underground)|
12 Oct 15 – 03 Apr 16, Every day, 10.00–18.00 Closed 24–26 December
|Website||Click here for more information|