Tate Britain Commission 2017: Cerith Wyn Evans at Tate Britain
Cerith Wyn Evans is interested in exploring flows of energy: through time, through space and through the momentously large halls of Tate Britain’s Duveen Galleries. The sculptural installation on show in his commission, Forms in Space… by Light (in Time), draws the viewer through the space, opening up and unfolding with every step.
Cerith Wyn Evans is a Welsh artist who first came to attention as a filmmaker producing experimental films and collaborative works. This commission is the result of several years working with Tate Britain where, incidentally, he was a security guard while he was a student at St Martins School of Art.
The installation is made of almost two kilometres of neon lighting. These neon strips are fashioned into a range of sculptural shapes: straight lines, circles and angles. They’re arranged in a way that recalls choreography as much as composition, suspended from the ceiling on transparent thread in a series of clusters that sway and turn ever so slightly.
The first gallery contains a single loop of neon, acting as a conceptual peephole introducing viewers to the installation. In the central octagon, the artist has crafted a vignette of shapes inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass (1915-23), tying the work to its institutional and art historical context.
However, it’s in the final gallery that the piece truly comes into its own. A mass of suspended lights are carefully arranged according to the principles of Japanese Noh theatre, reflecting the artist’s interest in translating physical movement into notational devices. The composition recalls the steps of a dance or a piece of contemporary theatre, while also alluding to celestial mapping and aeroplane flight paths.
Most of all, Forms in Space… by Light (in Time) is like a drawing in mid-air, an unfinished sketch for a fantastical flying machine that is unravelling or expanding through space. The result is an immersive and engaging experience that encourages you to linger.
Photo: Tate Photography
Tate Britain Commission 2017: Cerith Wyn Evans is at Tate Britain from 28th March until 20th August 2017, for further information visit here.