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  7. Gia Wolff Transforms the Tate Modern with Canopy of Ropes

Gia Wolff Transforms the Tate Modern with Canopy of Ropes

  • 01:00 - 27 September, 2014
Gia Wolff Transforms the Tate Modern with Canopy of Ropes
Gia Wolff Transforms the Tate Modern with Canopy of Ropes, © Gia Wolff
© Gia Wolff

Text description provided by the architects. What happens when a designer decides to turn a classic Herzog & de Meuron masterpiece into a carnival space? That's precisely what happened when architect Gia Wolff was asked to create an installation - part of which doubled as a performance piece - for the show Up Hill Down Hall: An Indoor Carnival in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall. How did she approach transforming such a cultural icon? Three words: red-pink rope.

© Gia Wolff © Gia Wolff © John Hartmann (Freecell Architecture) © John Hartmann (Freecell Architecture) + 16

© Gia Wolff
© Gia Wolff

From the Architect:

A deconstructed Canopy of ropes transform Herzog & de Meuron’s architectural space for the Turbine Hall into a carnival space reminiscent of Oscar Niemeyer’s Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro.

© Gia Wolff
© Gia Wolff

Canopy, was a monumental and unprecedented installation within the performance department for the show Up Hill Down Hall: An Indoor Carnival guest curated by Claire Tancons for Tate Modern‘s Turbine Hall. In the words of curator Tancons, the show "engages with Carnival as ritual of resistance, festival of otherness and performance art, and with the Notting Hill Carnival specifically as a contested site from which to reflect on notions of public space, performance and participation," all situated within the architectural installation of Canopy.

© Gia Wolff
© Gia Wolff

As a means to enhance the processional nature of the Turbine Hall, 5,500 feet of custom made, thick vibrant pink-red ropes hung from one end of the hall to the other. The ropes enticed audience members through the unique street-sized space, and guided them alongside the performers and participants.

© John Hartmann (Freecell Architecture)
© John Hartmann (Freecell Architecture)

Suspended lengthwise, 550 feet long and seemingly hairline thin pieces of rope physically connected to the building’s roof truss on the east and west ends of the hall, and visually connected the vast space with ten catenary curves. At the lowest point in the curve, the ropes split paths and wove above and below the bridge to bring viewers inside the space of Canopy. Up close, but just out of arms reach, the ropes revealed their massive size and rough twisted texture.

© John Hartmann (Freecell Architecture)
© John Hartmann (Freecell Architecture)

Within reach, smaller hand-held ropes were choreographed with Marlon Griffith's performance of No Black in the Union Jack. These ropes were used as crowd control devices, and moved in harmony and discord with the revelers. Held with tension, each rope bearer simulated a point along the line and defined the space for the performance. Shifts at each point along the line redefined the performance area and helped move the audience and performers from one end of the hall to the other.

Other collaborators for the show included Hew Locke’s, Give and Take, Central Saint Martin’s student project, The Sky is Dancing, and a soundscape by Dubmorphology.

© John Hartmann (Freecell Architecture)
© John Hartmann (Freecell Architecture)

This installation was a unique opportunity to explore spatial and performative ideas from carnival in tandem with discoveries made through the ongoing research project, Floating City: The Community-Based Architecture of Parade Floats, a project awarded by Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize 2013.

  • Architects

  • Location

    Tate Modern, London SE1, United Kingdom
  • Category

  • Architect in Charge

    Gia Wolff
  • Guest Curator

    Claire Tancons
  • Curatorial Team

    Catherine Wood, Curator, Contemporary Art and Performance, Tate and Capucine Perrot, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern
  • Engineering

    Scott Hughes of Robert Silman Associates
  • Handheld Rope Coordinator

    Andrea Herrada
  • Handheld Rope Performance

    Andrea Herrada, students from Central St. Martin’s, and Tate Volunteers
  • Rope Splicing

    Joe Taylor of Ropeloft, UK
  • Rope Rigging

    Nick Brown of Balckout, UK
  • Project Year

  • Photographs

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Project location

Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
About this office
Cite: "Gia Wolff Transforms the Tate Modern with Canopy of Ropes" 27 Sep 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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