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The Tate Modern: The Weather Project


Story & review: Jack Foley

THE Tate Modern is the perfect place to go for those seeking a return to those sun-drenched days of the Summer.

In the latest installation to pack people into the Turbine Hall, visitors can look forward to seeing massive representations of the sun and sky, affording them the opportunity to kick back and forget about the worries of the world - or the approach of colder, wetter weather.

The Weather Project is the fourth in the annual Unilever Series of commissions for the Turbine Hall, and has been put together by Olafur Eliasson.

The subject of the weather has long shaped the content of everyday conversation. The eighteenth-century writer Samuel Johnson famously remarked ‘It is commonly observed, that when two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather; they are in haste to tell each other, what each must already know, that it is hot or cold, bright or cloudy, windy or calm.’

Eliasson takes this ubiquitous subject as the basis for exploring ideas about experience, mediation and representation.

In this installation, a fine mist permeates the space, as if creeping in from the environment outside.

Throughout the day, the mist accumulates into faint, cloud-like formations, before dissipating across the space.

A glance overhead, to see where the mist might escape, reveals that the ceiling of the Turbine Hall has disappeared, replaced by a reflection of the space below.

At the far end of the hall is a giant semi-circular form made up of hundreds of mono-frequency lamps. The arc repeated in the mirror overhead produces a sphere of dazzling radiance linking the real space with the reflection.

Generally used in street lighting, mono-frequency lamps emit light at such a narrow frequency that colours other than yellow and black are invisible, thus transforming the visual field around the sun into a vast duotone landscape.

The ensuing effect is both mesmerising and soothing, with hundreds of people flocking to the venue to indulge in a spot of impromptu sun-seeking and relaxation.

I visited recently, and lay on the floor, staring at the cieling, to marvel at the activities of the people lying around me, as they contorted their bodies for maximumeffect in the mirrors overhead.

It had a completely relaxing effect, for something so simple, yet it is an experience well worth taking part in.

The Weather Project is free to enter and will be at the Tate Modern until March 21, 2004.

Exhibition Hours:
Sunday to Thursday, 10am-6pm
Friday and Saturday, 10am-10pm

Address: Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG. Tel: main information: 020 7887 8000 / Recorded information: 020 7887 8008

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