Anicka Yi : In Love With The World, at the Tate Modern 12/10/21-16/1/22


This is a major new work by Anicka Yi the South Korean conceptual artist based in New York. For the Hyundai Commission Yi, who often eschews the visual in favour of the olfactory, has created an experience which combines the senses. Mechanical 'aerobes' inspired by biological forms, appear to float effortlessly around the Turbine Hall. There's an overwhelming smell of baby powder which gets stronger and sweeter when the flying jelly-fish-like structures ('Xenojellies") and warped yellow balloons ("Planulae") are viewed from the next level up. The fragrances are programmed to vary throughout the duration of the exhibition. Today it smells like jasmine and violets or rose and vanilla. Yi claims to "sculpt the air" and utilises scent diffusers to do so. In previous exhibitions some of these scents have been cultured from ants and swabs of women's natural bodily fluids, which have been translated into chemical fragrances. She has focussed her audience's attention on issues such as gender, culture and migration. For the Turbine Hall Yi has created scentscapes which evoke odours relating to a specific time in Bankside's history. From the list of possibilities it seems likely that today's scent was that of the spices thought to counteract the Black Death.


The Turbine Hall is a vast industrial space which suits the creative merging of technology and biology. This commission has given Yi the opportunity to showcase her largest and most ambitious project to date. Her starting point was to postulate a vision of "the natural history of machines" and this has been the result. It's fun, light, bright and has plenty of gently drifting organic action. I think it will be a crowd pleaser.

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