LONDON (Reuters Life!) - One of Britain’s largest art galleries has been transformed into an emergency shelter, with 200 bed frames forming part of French artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s dystopian vision of disaster in 2058.
The giant installation in the cavernous Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern museum in London was inspired by the idea of the city under attack as well as climate change and science fiction literature.
Gonzalez-Foerster, who was born in 1965, filled the hall with 200 yellow and blue steel bunk beds, without their mattresses.
A book, one of 20 specially chosen titles in literature, was placed on each bed while a film consisting of clips from 30 different movies including Gonzalez’s own work played on a giant LCD screen at one end of the space.
“It’s a turbulence, so it’s like fasten your seatbelts!” Gonzalez-Foerster said at a press preview of the work entitled “TH.2058” on Monday, adding that past crises and conflicts informed her ideas about how spaces are used by people.
“I’m not a Second World War child, but history is part of the project. The more I was working on it and the more 2058 became a period the more I was looking back to 1958.”
Gonzalez-Foerster said she was inspired by images of Blitz-hit London during World War Two and the need for people to take shelter from rain or ecological disaster.
She acknowledged that while her project started before the credit crunch took hold, her work contained parallels with the global financial crisis.
The large foyer of the gallery, which leads to the Turbine Hall, was also incorporated into the installation as occasional drops of rain fell from the high ceiling of the Tate, a reflection of the artist’s interest in weather.
“I see it as a giant editing room as well, you could be reading a sentence from a book and it could have a relation to a sculpture. There’s self-editing of the space,” the artist added.
Visitors are allowed to sit on the steel beds and leaf through the books which include Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” and Jeff Noon’s “Vurt.”
“The books represent London under some situation of duress ... these kind of different visions of London but also this idea of the Turbine Hall as a place of refuge not just for people but for the culture in the future,” Jessica Morgan, curator of the installation, said.
Gonzalez-Foerster also played with nature and used existing Tate Modern sculptures such as Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider, Alexander Calder’s “Flamingo” and Maurizio Cattelan’s blown-up skeleton of a cat to emphasize the way nature can impose upon human spaces.
Visitors can see the installation for free at Tate Modern, a converted power station on the River Thames, from October 14 to April 13, 2009.
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