Little Sun: Art created to improve lives by Olafur Eliasson

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Danish artist will plunge Tate Modern into darkness for his latest piece

Olafur Eliasson has unveiled a new work that is intended to black out the Tate Modern yet bring light to the lives of millions living without access to mains electricity around the world.

The Nordic artist also used yesterday's launch event to speak out against the media treatment that had prompted him to drop an earlier part of the project saying several papers had "gone after" the work.

The new work Little Sun, backed by the Tate and part of the London 2012 Festival, comprises solar powered lamps shaped like sunflowers. The artist, who is perhaps known for bringing a big sun to the gallery's Turbine Hall in 2003, described the new project as “a work of art that works in life”.

The Tate Modern will switch off the lights in its Surrealist galleries for several hours every Saturday during the festival and invite viewers to look at the works using the lamps. The events will also include a seminar and 16 short films by filmmakers from off-grid areas around the world.

Little Sun was developed with engineer Frederik Ottesen in a bid to create art that could also improve lives. Eliasson said that said 1.6bn people around the world currently live without mains electricity. After five hours of charging in the sun, the lamp can produce light for five hours.

Eliasson believes this could bring light to people who rely on expensive and hazardous kerosene lamps, allowing them to work, cut living costs and improve their quality of life. "Little Sun is a small work of art with a large reach," he said.

The project hit the headlines earlier this year after one part, which focused on recording people breathing, sparked hostility in some areas of the media and spooked its backers.

Mr Eliasson said yesterday that the furore had prompted him to drop Take a Deep Breath, and stressed that it had been his decision. He said: “The Murdoch papers went after that part of it and I decided not to go ahead with it.”

“We went through different stages of the project and I pushed it a lot. It was a good collaboration,” he said, adding: “At the time, I decided not to speak out.”

As well as benefit millions of families, Eliasson hopes it will also help local entrepreneurs who can sell the lamps. He and Ottesen are looking to sell 400,000 lamps in the short term, and predicted sales could hit 1 million in 2013.

When asked why he launched the project at the Tate rather than at a store such as Ikea he said the gallery “is my playground. This is where I come from and the language I speak. I think of it as being a work of art.” He did not exclude commercial partnerships for selling the work, however.

Eliasson said: “Art does drive social change. Obviously this project has a specific social component, but in every room in this gallery you’ll find works addressing social questions.”

Yet he called on the establishment to involve itself more in social change. “The art world sometimes lives in a closed off environment called art institutions. Even though some are reaching out there is still a lot of work to do to show that art can deal with social issues very directly.”

The lamps are solar powered and after charging produce light for five hours. He hopes to set up a series of partnerships with local entrepreneurs who can sell the lamps.

In 2003, the Danish-Icelandic artist drew 2 million people to The weather project, the installation where the focal point was a giant sun in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

The blackouts at the Tate are intended to echo the 1938 International Surrealist Exhibition at the Galerie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where photographer Man Ray supplied visitors with torches to explore the gallery.

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?