Tate Britain is inviting the public to come and take part in its first ever fully interactive Christmas tree, created by Bob and Roberta Smith in collaboration with Electric Pedals. Entitled Make Your Own Xmas, the tree is made from timber, bicycles and lamps, and will be on display at Tate Britain from 5 December 2008 until 4 January 2009. Tate is asking gallery visitors to help bring the work to life, by providing the pedal-power to illuminate the tree.
The tree itself is a wooden structure made of recycled materials, including sandwich boards and an oil drum. Eight bicycles of various sizes have been fixed to stands around the trunk, each holding a generator that is connected to a set of light bulbs that decorate the tree. At 11 metres in height, it is the tallest Christmas tree to be installed in Tate Britain.
Make Your Own Xmas is a spirited, thought-provoking response to the season of contemplation, celebration and consumerism. Its overt humour and ramshackle aesthetic promote a variety of interpretations, evoking memories of hand-made Christmas decorations, as well as highlighting global concerns over energy production and waste. The artist aims to introduce an energetic, hands-on approach to art by getting the public actively involved in his work.
Bob and Roberta Smith was born in London in 1963. Smith works in a variety of media, including installations, painting and sculpture. A subversive sense of humour can often be found in his work, which frequently uses everyday and reclaimed materials to challenge society’s assumptions and values. Smith will be among the artists taking part in Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009, at Tate Britain from 3 February to 26 April 2009.
The artist worked on this commission with Electric Pedals, an organisation set-up by Tim Siddall in May 2007. It provides lighting, music and other interactions powered by bicycles and recycled generators.
This is the twenty-first year that Tate has invited a leading contemporary artist to create a Christmas tree for the gallery. Previously commissioned artists are: Fiona Banner (2007), Sarah Lucas (2006), Gary Hume (2005), Richard Wentworth (2004), Mark Wallinger (2003), Tracey Emin (2002), Yinka Shonibare (2001). Catherine Yass (2000), Mat Collishaw (1999), Richard Wilson (1998), Michael Landy (1997), Julian Opie (1996), Cornelia Parker (1995), Cathy de Monchaux (1994), Shirazeh Houshiary (1993), Craigie Aitchison (1992), Boyd Webb (1991), Lisa Milroy (1990), Tim Head (1989) and Bill Woodrow (1988).
Bob and Roberta Smith will be talking about Make Your Own Xmas in an interview for TateShots.