Ecotile and The Arts: Tate Modern

Earlier this month, we were invited to collaborate with Cuban artist Tania Brugurea on her art project at the Tate Modern in London. The Tate Modern is a world famous British art institution based on the borders of Central and South London. It has showcased a wide variety of international modern and contemporary art encompassing a wide range of themes and topics.

Tania Brugurea is an artist known for her high-impact performance work. A previous project involved using police officers on horseback to force the audience around like angry protesters.

Her latest endeavour focuses on the global migration crisis. As part of the annual Hyundai Commission, Brugurea’s latest artwork takes centre stage in the Tate Modern’s turbine hall where 3500 m2 of our interlocking PVC floor tiles provided her canvas.

Our time at the Tate Modern

tate modern 2

Coated with thermochromic paint and then sealed, our tiles were transformed in to a heat-sensitive surface that records an impression of people’s footsteps as they walk over it. The goal of the project was to get enough people to lie on the floor to reveal a portrait of a young Syrian migrant who, against the odds, survived the risky journey from his war torn country to begin a new life in the UK.

This young man was a homeless migrant when he and Brugurea met six years ago but he has made a huge success of the opportunity and is now studying medicine and working in the NHS.

Another interesting aspect of the installation is a low-frequency sound playing through speakers that fills the space, meant to haunt the area with an unsettling energy. In a room nearby, an organic compound has been released into the air that induces tears. According to Brugurea, it is meant to provoke what she describes as ‘forced empathy’.

This was a very unusual project for us that presented a few unforeseen challenges but it is a huge privilege to be part of such a thought-provoking and worthwhile artistic endeavour.