Es Devlin’s spiritual poem of biodiversity at the Tate Modern

Approaching south, S. Devlin’s new public artwork appears in modern Tate Park as an architectural homage, and a massive model of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, across the Thames of Christopher Wren’s descent. In Devlin’s piece – titled Come home againCommissioned by Cartier, the dome is cut to reveal its cross-section, and is brilliantly lit and decorated from tip to toe with cut-out drawings of moths, birds, beetles, wildflowers, fish and fungi. At its base there are steps that lead up to the choir, inviting passersby to immerse themselves in the wildlife that Devlin drew in pencil.

in a day, Come home again A place to contemplate and learn. Entering the dome allows the visitor to examine the drawings closely – there are 243 in total, representing 243 priority species identified by the London Biodiversity Action Plan as being declining in numbers in the capital and thus in need of conservation action. Instead of the prayer books one might expect in a place of worship, Devlin put together QR codes that link to a guide for all kinds. Equally important is the soundscape, created by Devlin’s usual music collaborators Jade Pybus and Andy Theakstone, and interspersed with recordings of various choirs singing the Latin names of priority species with actual animal sounds. Every few minutes, the great cacophony fades and Devlin’s voice emerges to introduce one of the genres. It says its common and Latin names, and provides a range of information that helps us remember the animal. We learn, for example, that velocity (apus apusIt can fly the equivalent of eight trips to the moon and back in its lifetime.

Working in her south London studio, Devlin paints two animal species on London’s Priority Species List and featured in Come home again. Courtesy of Studio Es Devlin

“I want to help people learn the names of these animals,” Devlin explains as we speak in her studio in south London two weeks before Come home again”Unveiling. Once you know their names, you make a place for them in your imagination – it’s like a memory palace. And you will always think of them differently.

Even for the artist and designer who used to be in the spotlight (Devlin’s portfolio includes theater sets for Beyoncé, The Weeknd, Kanye West, and U2, as well as Olympic ceremonies in London and Rio), Come home again It is a project of great importance. The Tate Modern is among the most visited attractions in London, and even more people pass by the riverside each day – so the museum is very selective about what is allowed to be placed in the park. The site is also of personal significance to Devlin, a native Londoner: “To me, the Tate Modern is emblematic of a real shift in British culture: its opening coincided with a shift in our character as a country and a city, with the new Labor and renaissance. from YBAs. Suddenly British culture is becoming important on the world stage, when it hasn’t been for many years.

St Paul’s view of the Tate Modern Garden makes the cathedral a natural starting point for a site-specific paradise, but it was a conversation a few years ago with Ben Evans, director London Design FestivalThis prompted Devlin to join the dots between the two spaces. He said, “S, you must think of the relationship between St. Paul as the seat of ancient ecclesiastical power, and Tate as the seat of historical industrial power. [the museum building was once the Bankside Power Station]and now the seat of contemporary cultural power. Consider this convergence of energies and think about what you might do,” Devlin recalls, as we examine drawings and presentations Come home again.

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Around the same time as her conversation with Evans, Devlin was discovering books on environmental philosophy—encouraged by the likes of Hans Ulrich Obrist and Alice Rawthorn, and facilitated by Amazon’s algorithm. The latter led her to the two most important volumes influencing her worldview and practice today: David Abram become an animal (“He talks a lot about magic, and how we can change our perceptions if we interrupt our usual ways of seeing things,” she sums up.) A lover’s world, a world of his own. “Missy invites you to think about where your ego ends, and it invites you to realize that you are selfish, and you feel a sense of self-preservation,” Devlin says. “But what if the place in which you consider your stay is more expansive than just your body and in your mind?”

Much of Devlin’s recent work is reflected in Abram and Macy: there The forest for a changewhich planted 400 trees inside the courtyard of Somerset House in London to raise awareness of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and similarly trees conferenceinhabited by The New York TimesClimate Center at COP26 in Glasgow with 197 trees and plants. Its Mirror Labyrinth has been extensively photographed and Instagrammed, jungle usIt similarly carries an environmental message; In her words, “it draws people’s attention to the relationship between them and the planet.” Come home againWith her evocation of the types of animals that Devlin calls “non-human Londoners,” he continues in this vein. Humans have gone through a period of separation from the biosphere in order to learn more about it, in order to specialize. But now we need to reconnect, back again to our common planet, says Devlin, adding that the words “dome” and “house” share etymological roots.

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In an effort to better communicate 243 priority species, Devlin decided to draw each in pencil on paper, using photographs as reference material. “This kind of observational drawing hasn’t been a part of my job since I’ve been doing A-level artwork, but I wanted that sense of submissiveness to the observation of a life that isn’t mine,” she says. I wasn’t trying to be expressive. So my drawing of bumblebee is not my interpretation of bumblebee, but an attempt to learn bumblebee methods. It was a four month process that took 18 hours a few days and gave Devlin ample opportunity to listen to podcasts about London wildlife, and wildlife in general. The fruits of her labor are evidenced by the ease with which each species can now be identified and grounded: it indicates, for example, that the striped beetle was thought to be extinct until 85 of them were counted in the town. Tower Hamlets, and has since become a subject in the artworks of Sonya Boyce, who won the Golden Lion this year. Venice Biennale.

inside Come home again243 Devlin’s sketches were enlarged, printed on sustainably sourced birch plywood, cut and projected across the cross-section of the dome, with strips of LEDs hanging on the back for illumination (these will be back in stock after the exhibition). The chassis is made of recycled steel and stretched fabric, and it has opted for an eco-friendly matte paint, all to keep the installation’s carbon footprint to a minimum and thus in line with its mission.

Elegant and impressive as it is in the day, at sunset Come home again right in life. Every evening until October 1, a London-based choral group will come to the installation and sing their interpretation of the choral evensong, which members of the public can enjoy free of charge and without prior reservation. Devlin got the idea from a visit to St Paul’s, where she observed the daily ritual that signified the moment when the day turned into evening: “Listen to evensong, I thought, where do you get that experience? They will sing whether you attend or not, so it’s not a performance. It is, in fact, a call to prayer, a remnant of the time of morning, indifference and sunset prayer. You feel like you are part of an old style of telling the time. Whatever you are, you can walk and be surrounded by this wonderful collection of music.

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The choir lineup is shiny and reflects the cultural make-up of London, from the award-winning Tinebra, to the Bulgarian London Choir and the UK’s South African Cultural Gospel Choir. They will sing in English, Latin, Bulgarian, and zucchini—”I’m interested in the parallel concerns of diminishing biodiversity and diminishing linguistic diversity,” Devlin says. We are homogenizing, and our ethnosphere has become poor parallel to the biosphere. There is an extraordinary document on endangered languages, and what you feel when you read it is also what you feel when you see the last polar bear on the last piece of floating ice. I wanted to make this connection as well.

She is especially looking forward to performing The Choir with No Name, a choir for the homeless and marginalized to experience the joy of singing together. I challenge anyone not to cry that night. Because we’re talking about homes, and here we have people who don’t have homes, singing with their hearts out. I think it will be incredibly impressive.

Devlin likes to include a clear call to action with every install. So just as the Forest of Us in Miami encouraged visitors to donate to Instituto Terra, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the Atlantic Forest, Come home again Encourages the public to contribute and interact with the London Wildlife Trust, which protects, preserves and promotes the capital’s wildlife and wild spaces.

It’s an issue that resonates similarly with Cartier, with whom Devlin has a long-standing relationship (she cites the 2019 exhibition ‘Trees’ at the Fondation Cartier, which brought together artists, botanists, and philosophers, as the inspiration for her recent practice). Cyrille Vigneron, CEO of Cartier, says, ‘With Come home againEs Devlin has created a unique and thought-provoking work of art, a choral sculpture that exemplifies how inspiring yet fragile the beauty of the world is, and calls for the conservation of Earth’s natural biodiversity.

finally, Come home again It offers a message of hope, suggesting that if we take quick and decisive action to fix the mistakes of the past, we can return to a happier state of equilibrium with the planet. As Devlin says in the installation soundtrack, quoting Joanna Macy: “May we turn inward and find our true roots in the intertwined biology of this wonderful planet. […] Now it can shine upon us. We our world knows itself. We can let go of our separation, we can go home again. §

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