Anicka Yi: In Love With The World, at Tate Modern

When the Tate curatorial team were working with Korean American artist Anicka Yi on this most recent Hyundai commission for the Turbine Hall, no-one could have foreseen how topical these squid-like aerobes would seem.

Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi: In Love With The World

Tate Modern, Turbine Hall
12 October 2021 – 16 January 2022

Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi: In Love With The World
Installation view of Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi: In Love With The World

11 October 2021 – Hyundai Motor and Tate Modern today announced the opening of Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi: In Love With The World as Tate Modern unveils a captivating installation by artist Anicka Yi. For this Hyundai Commission, Yi began with the question of what a ‘natural history of machines’ could look and feel like, built on her previous work speculating on the possibilities of machines evolving into independent forms of life. Referencing the Turbine Hall’s original purpose of housing turbines of the former Bankside Power Station before the site was developed into a gallery, Yi populates the hall with machines once again, transforming the space with her vision of a new kind of ecosystem. Moving through the air, her floating machines – called aerobes – prompt viewers to think about new ways that machines might inhabit the world. It is the sixth Hyundai Commission, an annual series of site-specific works created for the Turbine Hall by international artists, as part of a long-term partnership between Tate and Hyundai Motor.

Yi has become known for her experimental work which explores the merging of technology and biology, focusing on breaking down distinctions we hold between plants, animals, micro-organisms and technology. Through this work, she asks viewers to think about how removing these distinctions affects our understanding of ourselves as humans, and the ecosystems we live in.

Two species of aerobes explore the Turbine Hall, exhibiting individual and group behaviors in response to different elements of their environment. ‘Xenojellies’ have semitransparent bodies each with a different colored top and patterned tentacles, while ‘planulae’ are bulbous and covered by short yellow hair. Both species are filled with helium, propelled by rotors and powered by a small battery pack. Their biomorphic forms reference both ocean lifeforms and mushrooms, reflecting the varying roles and levels of complexity amongst organisms in an ecosystem. These aerobes allow Yi to imagine new possibilities for artificial intelligence, inspired by the diverse ways that organisms learn through their bodies and senses.

Integral to Yi’s commission as well as her wider practice are scent and air. She is interested in the politics of air and how this is affected by changing attitudes, inequalities, and ecological awareness. She approaches scent as a medium for subtly shifting perceptions and giving presence to the air that we all share, and on which we depend. For Tate Modern, the artist has created unique scentscapes that transition from one week to the next, evoking odors linked to a specific time in the history of Bankside. These scentscapes create an environment that connects the aerobes with the history of the site and all other organisms that share their habitat. As the odors change between each unique scentscape, the aerobes’ behavior and interactions will develop in response.

Hyundai Motor’s commitment to supporting art and its global communities has led to long-term partnerships with museums and organizations around the world. The aim is to encourage new ways of thinking about art and the values and connections it can create by supporting initiatives where artists, communities, and institutions come together to offer transformative experiences. Hyundai Motor has been supporting art initiatives driven by long-term partnerships with global museums ― Tate, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea (MMCA), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) since 2013. In addition to the Hyundai Commission, Hyundai Motor supports the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational through its partnership with Tate. The Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, launched in January 2019, continues to help challenge and revise dominant art histories and highlight the global exchanges of artists and ideas.

Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi: In Love With The World is curated by Achim Borchardt-Hume, Director of Exhibitions and Programmes, Tate Modern; Mark Godfrey, former Senior Curator, International Art, Tate Modern; and Carly Whitefield, Assistant Curator, International Art, Tate Modern. Produced by Petra Schmidt, Production Manager, Tate Modern. It will be accompanied by a new book from Tate Publishing.

Anicka Yi was born in Seoul in 1971 and now lives and works in New York City. She has been the subject of solo exhibitions at museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Kunsthalle Basel, and the Fridericianum in Kassel. Her work featured in the Venice Biennale in 2019, the Whitney Biennial in 2017 and the Gwangju Biennale in 2016, as well as in many group exhibitions around the world. She won the Hugo Boss Prize in 2016 and has held residencies and fellowships at the Berggruen Institute in Los Angeles, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the Center for Art Science and Technology at MIT.

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