Carsten Holler to fill Tate Modern's great hall

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An artist whose works of art include giant upside down red-and-white toadstools, a funfair and a tent with holes in it for frisbee-throwing will be the next to tackle the giant Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

When Rachel Whiteread's vast collection of mock white boxes, entitled Embankment, departs for recycling, the Belgian artist Carsten Holler will be preparing to fill it.

Holler, 44, who lives in Sweden, will be the seventh artist to undertake the commission, which has produced audience-pulling works including Olafur Eliasson's giant sun and Anish Kapoor's red horn-like sculpture, Marsyas.

And despite heavyweight academic descriptions of his work as ranging from "the purely conceptual to the elaborately architectural", on initial viewing they simply seem great fun.

Jessica Morgan, the curator of contemporary art for Tate, said: "The thing that makes his work interesting is the duality. On the one hand he lures you in with spectacle and entertainment and high production skills, but there's always a dark side to the work. There's a slight ambiguity to what he's doing, it's in some ways a little twisted."

One advantage Holler has in undertaking the creation of a work for the vast Turbine Hall - measuring 155 metres long, 23 metres wide and 35 metres high - is that he has worked on a large scale before. His work often involves playful elements, such as in Sliding Doors (2003), a series of electronic sliding doors with a mirrored surface through which the audience passes in a seemingly endless passage.

This was presented at Tate Modern three years ago. In Upside-Down Mushroom Room (2000), he created enormous fabricated red-and-white mushrooms, their stalks fixed to the ceiling, slowly rotating, while another series of works involve slides, as in tubes a person might slide down.

Ms Morgan said: "He can really take on the scale of the space which is always the hardest part of the commission. There aren't many people who would want to do that. And he's an artist who is interested in the type of event that takes place in the Turbine Hall - a mass of people, a communal experience, sound and activity.

"It's almost as if it's a setting ... waiting for Carsten to come along."

He was thrilled to have been asked, she said. "Of course, it's THE thing. There probably isn't an artist out there who hasn't thought about what they might do were they to be asked."

Gavin Neath, the chairman of Unilever UK, which is giving £1m over three years to the scheme, said: "The Unilever Series at Tate Modern has been described as one of the toughest challenges in the art world. As with the six artists before him, Unilever is proud to support this commission and has no doubt he will rise to the challenge admirably."

The series of commissions began when Tate Modern opened in 2000 and has become a popular attraction. The other artists to have worked in the space are Louise Bourgeois, Juan Munoz and Bruce Nauman.

Carsten Holler's work will go on display from 10 October to April 2007.

Stars of the Turbine Hall


Created the inaugural work in The Unilever Series when the gallery opened in May 2000. The commission consisted of three nine-metre high steel towers,I Do, I Undo, I Redo, and a giant spider, Maman, protectively guarding her eggs.

* ANISH KAPOOR The Bombay-born artist renowned for his enigmatic sculptural forms, filled the entire length of the hall with Marsyas in October 2002, a dark red sculpture 155 metres long. It consisted of a red fabric membrane stretched across three large rings.


Embankment was installed in October last year. The installation was built from 14,000 white casts of cardboard boxes. Some stacks appear disordered and organic, resembling a natural landscape, while others recall geometric forms of a cityscape.