fri 10/07/2020

When will it end? Dust continues to spoil fun for visitors to Tate Modern | reviews, news & interviews

When will it end? Dust continues to spoil fun for visitors to Tate Modern

When will it end? Dust continues to spoil fun for visitors to Tate Modern

Ai Weiwei in his field of porcelain sunflower seeds. The seed, says the artist, symbolises the Chinese people

Three days after its closure, and just a few days after opening, Tate Modern is still to make an announcement over the future of Ai Weiwei's interactive Turbine Hall installation. Will the closure of the dust-emitting artwork be permanent? Or are the Tate perhaps thinking of issuing dust masks to the public, which may, in fact, add a thrilling "danger zone" dimension to the experience?

It may be remembered that Tate Modern faced similar fears when it opened a decade ago. With the high number of visitors, it was suggested that the untreated wooden floors were creating enough dust to cause long-term damage to the paintings. But health and safety fears have also dogged previous Turbine Hall commissions:  in 2006, injuries were reported from visitors hurtling down Carsten Höller's slide (see below) and the following year people were tripping over Doris Salcedo's 167-metre floor crack.

Contemporary art lovers may like their art to be edgy and dangerous. But just how dangerous?

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Minimalist installation speaks volumes at Tate Modern

One is so used to encountering spectacle in the Turbine Hall that visitors may feel distinctly underwhelmed by Ai Weiwei's minimal installation, the 11th Unilever Commission at Tate Modern. There appears at first to be nothing at all to see: the work, which resembles a huge blanket of ash by the time you reach the stairs to the bridge, is the same colour as the surrounding pale grey walls.

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Why not call in an engineer? There would seem to be plenty of ways of reducing dust - coating the seeds in lacquer, misting the installation to bring down the dust, fans and filtering to absorb it..

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