The great Turbine Hall at Tate Modern has held 19 installations over the years.
The space has been transformed by some of the biggest names in art, including Louise Bourgeois, Anish Kapoor, Rachel Whiteread and Ai Weiwei. You may remember the vast oblong of sunflower seeds, the mirrored sun, the stacks of white boxes, or the terrifying slides. This article serves as a reminder of all the wonders that have filled the Turbine Hall, first under the sponsorship of Unilever, and more recently, Hyundai.
But what happens to a commission after its time in the hall comes to an end? In most cases, they are returned to the artist. Others were designed as one-off showpieces for Tate Modern, and so have no afterlife. Still others were acquired by Tate, and become part of the permanent collection. Below, we've indicated the fate of each work, where known.
2000-2012: The Unilever Series
1. Louise Bourgeois: I Do, I Undo, I Redo
What: The one that started it all. Three steel towers, known as 'I do', 'I undo' and 'I redo' were placed in the main space, each nine metres tall. Visitors could climb the towers for encounters with giant mirrors. Equally memorable was the monumental spider Maman, which stood guard over the upper level.
When: 12 May-26 November 2000
Where is it now? The spider component was acquired by Tate, but is not currently on display. The towers were site-specific and do not appear to have been exhibited elsewhere since.
2. Juan Muñoz: Double Bind
What: A pair of lifts moved up and down through a false ceiling, which divided the Turbine Hall into upper and lower spaces.
When: 12 June 2001-10 March 2002
Where is it now? Another site-specific installation, Double Bind was designed to precisely match the dimensions of the hall. Nevertheless, it was returned to the artist, and has been exhibited twice at other venues — Milan in 2015 and Lleida in 2017.
3. Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond: Marsyas
What: A 150-metre-long red trumpet, or flower, or wormhole, or whatever you want to liken it to, extended the length and height of the Turbine Hall.
When: 9 Oct 2002-6 Apr 2003
Where is it now? The sculpture was only intended as a temporary, site-specific installation and has not been re-erected since.
4. Olafur Eliasson: The Weather Project
What: For many (who are old enough) the most memorable Turbine Hall commission. Eliasson's installation included a brilliant orange 'sun', smoke effects and a mirrored ceiling.
When: 16 October 2003-21 March 2004
Where is it now? For something so impressive, The Weather Project was made from humble materials — monofrequency lights, projection foil, haze machines, mirror foil, aluminium and scaffolding. The components were not saved, and the installation has not been restaged elsewhere.
5. Bruce Nauman: Raw Materials
What: The first Turbine Hall commission to do away with sculpture, Nauman used hidden speakers to project audio clips around the space.
When: 12 October 2004-2 May 2005
Where is it now? The work was later acquired by Tate. The installation returned to the Turbine Hall in 2017, between the Parreno and SUPERFLEX commissions.
6. Rachel Whiteread: EMBANKMENT
What: The only commission so far to share its name with a tube station, Whiteread filled the hall with 14,000 white boxes, each a translucent polyethylene recreation of an original cardboard box.
When: 11 October 2005-1 May 2006
Where is it now? The plastic boxes were recycled after the exhibition.
7. Carsten Höller: Test Site
What: Five twisting, snaking slides, which you could actually slide down.
When: 10 October 2006-15 April 2007
Where is it now? These exact slides are no longer in existence, but their components were surely reused in Höller's later slides, such as those installed at the Hayward Gallery and on the Orbit tower. This was a 'test site', after all.
8. Doris Salcedo: Shibboleth
What: An unnerving crack stretching the length of the Turbine Hall and getting gradually thinner.
When: 9 October 2007-6 April 2008
Where is it now?: The only Turbine Hall commission still to be seen in the Turbine Hall. The crack was filled in with concrete, but its progress can still be traced along the floor of the hall. Salcedo's own photographs of Shibboleth have entered the Tate collection as a work of art in their own right.
9. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster: TH.2058
What: The artist imagines a London of 2058, where it continuously rains and sculptures have grown to a gigantic size. The hall was filled with yellow and blue bunkbeds, to represent a shelter, and populated with oversized replicas of famous sculptures (including a Bourgeois spider).
When: 14 Oct 2008-13 Apr 2009
Where is it now? The oversized components were too large for ready storage and have presumably been disassembled since the installation.
10. Miroslaw Balka: How it is
What: A great, grey box. Visitors were encouraged to explore the darkened interior. Terrifying.
When: 13 Oct 2009-5 Apr 2010
Where is it now? The art work does not seem to have been on display since the Tate commission, and is likely scrapped.
11. Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds
What: 100 million sunflower seeds, handmade from porcelain, displayed in a huge rectangle across the Turbine Hall floor. Initially, visitors could walk across the seed bed, but this aspect was curtailed following concerns about the dust.
When: 12 Oct 2010-2 May 2011
Where is it now? The artist has specified two alternative modes of display for the seeds — one as shown in the Turbine Hall, and the other in a conical pile. Tate has acquired 8 million of the seeds for display in the second configuration, although the art work is currently in storage. Sackfuls more have been sold at auction. Many more escaped the exhibition in visitors' pockets — to the point where an exhibition of stolen seeds was mounted at Danson House, Bexley in 2013.
12. Tacita Dean: FILM
What: A 10-minute film, specially made for the Turbine Hall, showing Tate Modern in various arty ways.
When: 11 Oct 2011-11 Mar 2012
Where is it now? The original film has been acquired by Tate, but is not currently on display.
13. Tino Sehgal: These Associations
What: The first live commission for the Turbine Hall, These Associations saw performers dance, prance, dash and talk while the public moved among them.
When: 24 Jul 2012-28 Oct 2012
Where is it now? As an intangible performance piece, These Associations does not exist in a physical sense. Elements of the work have been restaged elsewhere.
14. Richard Tuttle: I Don't Know . The Weave of Textile Language
What: Vast reams of fabric droop from an aerial platform. This installation was not part of the Unilever Series, nor the Hyundai Commissions, but is included for its similar sense of scale.
When: 14 Oct 2014-6 Apr 2015
Where is it now? Another work that is too large for ready storage. It has not been redisplayed since the Tate show.
2015-present: Hyundai Commissions
15. Abraham Cruzvillegas: Empty Lot
What: A geometric pattern of planters, each containing soil from a different London park. The planters contained no seeds (initially), but were watered each day to see what would grow from airborne serendipity.
When: 13 Oct 2015-3 Apr 2016
Where is it now? You could view this work as a performance piece, with the weeds and spores playing the star role. Come 3 April, the 'performance' was complete, and the work was disbanded. It has not been restaged since.
16. Philippe Parreno: Anywhen
What: A site-specific installation, using sound, light, sculpture... and helium-filled fish. The Turbine Hall became "a universe of inter-related and connected events and parallel realities". It's hard to describe. Probably best watch the video.
When: 4 Oct 2016-2 Apr 2017
Where is it now? Another large, complex piece that could only work in the Turbine Hall. It has not been redisplayed elsewhere.
17. SUPERFLEX: One Two Three Swing
What: A decade after Carsten Höller brought slides to Tate Modern, Danish artists' collective SUPERFLEX filled the room (and outdoor area) with swings. Meanwhile, a supersized pendulum swung above the (stripy carpeted) entrance ramp. The most family-friendly of all the commissions.
When: 3 Oct 2017-2 Apr 2018
Where is it now? One Two Three Swing was "conceived as a recurring project, appearing in new locations all over the world", and so they have. Elements of the work have been installed in Copenhagen, Basel and Bonn. The swings have even appeared beside the Korean Demilitarised Zone.
18. Tania Bruguera: 10,148,451
What: This multifaceted work's most noticeable feature was a heat-sensitive floor, which concealed the portrait of a Syrian immigrant. In an adjacent room, an airborne organic compound induced tears. The number in the title refers to the tally of international migrants.
When: 2 October 2018-24 February 2019.
Where is it now? The various components were returned to the artist, and the work has not been redisplayed.
19. Kara Walker: Fons Americanus
What: The tallest (albeit temporary) fountain in London, is inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. Walker's fountain, though, reflects the horrors of empire and colonialism, in contrast to the many monuments which celebrate that past.
When: 2 Oct 2019- 7 February 2021
Where is it now? During lockdown, Fons Americanus featured prominently in FKA Twigs' powerful Don't Judge Me music video. Co-directed by the musician herself, the video drew on themes of oppression and the Black British experience and featured an array of prominent Black activists and creatives. After that, its fate is uncertain, though it looks set to be destroyed — according to a Tate spokesperson, "built from recyclable or reusable cork, wood and metal to ensure its future is sustainable, whether as an artwork or not."
20. Anicka Yi: In love With The World
What: Peculiar jellyfish forms float around the turbine hall, rising and falling in inscrutable rhythms. These elegant drones explore the possibilities of artificial life and supposedly communicate with one another, unseen to the visitors below.
When: 12 Oct 2021-16 Jan 2022
Where is it now? Still in situ within Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.
We will update this article annually to include new commissions. The next Turbine Hall Commission will be by Anicka Yi and is set to launch in October 2021.
With thanks to Kitty Malton of Tate's Press & Communications team for helpful responses to our questions.