Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas wants to fill Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with dirt, or soil to be more precise. The artist is going to acquire a very large amount of top soil, so that he can create a large-scale installation with a horticultural element for the Turbine Hall. Cruzvillegas will undertake the inaugural Hyundai Commission in late 2015, named after the Korean car maker, the new sponsor of the annual commission in the Tate’s vast space. The artist’s work is due to be unveiled in October. This will be the first in a new series of annual site-specific commissions by renowned international artists.
Cruzvillegas is best known for creating sculptural works from local found objects and materials. During the 1990s and 2000s, the artist was among the key figures of a new wave of emerging conceptual artists in Mexico. For the past few years, Cruzvillegas has created a body of work under the title autoconstrucción or ‘self-construction’, a term which usually refers to the way Mexicans of his parents’ generation arriving in the capital from rural areas in the 1960s, built their own houses in stages, improvising with whatever materials they could source.
On this occasion a growth medium is the essential component in the artist’s proposed Turbine Hall installation, as reported in the Art Newspaper, hence the Tate is asking those in charge of London’s parks from across the capital to donate a wheelbarrow or two of soil. Once the installation ends next May, the soil will be recycled. However, what will be grown during the period in our fertile London soil over the winter months has not been disclosed.
At the time of Cruzvillegas’s announcement as the first artist to undertake the Hyundai Commission, Chris Dercon, the abdicating Director of Tate Modern said: “I am delighted that Abraham Cruzvillegas has accepted the first Hyundai Commission to make a new work for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. His work reflects Tate’s deep interest in showing truly ground-breaking international art.”
Hyundai Motor added: “The Hyundai Commission signifies the beginning of a cross-disciplinary collaboration between Hyundai and Tate. This strong partnership is made possible by a shared vision to focus on global talent. We are privileged to begin the Hyundai Commission with Abraham Cruzvillegas and realise our ambition to contribute to the global art community.”
The artist and activist Ai Weiwei carpeted the Turbine Hall with ceramic sunflower seeds for his Unilever Series piece in 2010, although the issue on that occasion was not soil but the dangers of ceramic dust, and in 2003 Olafur Eliasson flooded the cavernous hall with his artificial sun for ‘The Weather Project’.
The Hyundai Commission: Abraham Cruzvillegas will be curated by Mark Godfrey, Curator, Tate Modern, with Hansi Momodu-Gordon, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern.