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Unilever’s Tate Sponsorship Expires; Hall Shuts in 2013

Tate Modern
The exterior of Tate Modern in London. Source: Tate Photography via Bloomberg

Unilever said its sponsorship of Tate Modern’s annual art installation in the Turbine Hall has run out, and the decision to extend is on hold as the hall closes for construction next year.

“We sponsored the series, and we then renewed that twice,” said Sue Garrard, Unilever Plc’s senior vice president for global communications, in an interview at Tate Modern after the 2012 artist Tino Sehgal’s presentation. “We were coming up to the point where we had to decide whether to renew.”

“Next year, everything’s on pause,” she said, pointing out that the hall will shut in 2013 as Tate Modern builds a new extension. Tate’s press office confirmed that the Turbine Hall will close for building work next year.

Every year since 2000, Tate Modern, the power-station-turned-museum on London’s South Bank, has invited an artist to create a work for its vast lobby, the Turbine Hall. Unilever has sponsored the series from the start and lent its name to it.

Participants in the Unilever Series have included Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who paved the hall with 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds; Doris Salcedo, whose “Shibboleth” was a 167-meter-long crack in the lobby’s concrete floor; Carsten Hoeller, whose tall slides turned Tate into an amusement park; and Olafur Eliasson, whose “Weather Project” featured a sun-like installation shining on visitors.

Series Cost

The series was last renewed in 2008 for a five-year period at a cost of 2.16 million pounds ($2.77 million).

Almost 30 million people have seen the series so far, Garrard said on July 23.

Sehgal, whose installation in the hall opened yesterday, presents the series’ first piece of performance art, “These Associations.” Trained participants move around the Turbine Hall individually or in clusters, speeding up, slowing down, sitting down and chanting. Individual members occasionally stop to strike up conversations with visitors.

The work, timed to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic Games, runs through Oct. 28.

Tate Modern is constructing a 215 million pound new wing designed by architects Herzog & De Meuron that will open in 2016 at the latest.

For more information:

Muse highlights include Richard Vines on London food, Ryan Sutton on New York food and James Russell on architecture.

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