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  • Cildo Meireles Babel (detail) 2001

    Cildo Meireles Babel (detail) 2001

    Photo: Tate Photography

  • Cildo Meireles Babel (detail) 2001

    Cildo Meireles Babel (detail) 2001

    Photo: Tate Photography

Babel 2001

This vast tower of radios, each tuned to a different channel and adjusted to the minimum volume at which it is audible, relates to the biblical story of the Tower of Babel: a tower tall enough to reach the heavens. Affronted by this structure, God caused the builders to speak in different languages and, ceasing to understand one another, become divided and scattered across the earth. According to myth, this inability to communicate became the cause of all mankind’s conflicts.

Babelconsists of around 800 radios of varying ages, from the beautiful, large, valve radios which make up the bottom tiers of the tower to the smaller mass-produced electronic radios of recent years which form its summit. By using radios of decreasing size from the floor to the ceiling, Meireles emphasises the perspective and the sheer height of the work.
Furthermore, Babelconstitutes a survey of radios from the 1920s to the present day, which in turn presents what the artist has described as ‘an archaeological sample of events’. Due to the time-based nature of the medium of radio, no two experiences of this work are ever the same.