Purple Art

[October 26 2021]

“In Love With The World,” an exhibition by Anicka Yi at Tate Modern, London

The latest Turbine Hall commission at Tate Modern arrives after a pandemic-induced pause for breath. This year it’s Seoul-born, New York City-based artist Anicka Yi’s turn to take on the gargantuan space and the mantle of its previous occupiers.

Yi’s floating, jellyfish-like ‘aerobes’ – powered by a mysterious AI – swarm in the air and move around the space in three dimensions, driven by tiny electric motors. The artist promises that their behavior will evolve over the duration of the installation, with the creatures learning from and responding to their human audience. But Yi confronts any wider issues – from the banality of drone delivery to the horror of drone warfare – obliquely. Like wafting molecules, the aerobes don’t appear to be doing anything much (although they do need to return to a giant docking station for a recharge).

But take your mask off, and there’s a subtle assault of odor, which is invisibly pumped out from the work. The scent on the first day was, apparently, cholera – “leafy grass and horse sweat” according to Yi, who says she is treating these scent molecules as sculptural material. Delayed, Yi’s self-defined work of “metabolic art” now arrives in a time where taking off or putting on your face covering is its own statement, where the air around us and within us has never been more politicized. And, perhaps, In Love With The World might make us take our own pause for breath.

On view now until January 16th at Tate Modern, London

Photos by Jethro Turner

Subscribe to our newsletter