Roman Ondak

It Will All Turn Out Right in the End

2005–6

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Not on display

Artist
Roman Ondak born 1966
Medium
Metal, wood, fibreboard, plywood, aluminium and other materials
Dimensions
Object: 3700 × 2500 × 20700 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented as a partial gift by the artist and partial purchase with funds provided by the Russia and Eastern Europe Acquisitions Committee 2019
Reference
T15538

Summary

It Will All Turn Out Right in the End 2005–6 is a scaled down three-dimensional model of Tate Modern’s iconic Turbine Hall at a scale of 10:1. An exact replica of the Turbine Hall, it was commissioned for Level 2 Gallery: Roman Ondak at Tate Modern, London, 29 July–17 September 2006 and co-produced by Tate and CAC (Centre d’art contemporain) Brétigny. Measuring 3.5 metres high by 2.5 metres wide by 20.7 metres long, including the integral entrance ramp, the sculpture is made from many different materials. Selected for their textures and with direct reference to the original Turbine Hall, they have been combined for strength and stability. The base structure is made of an iron frame, on which rests a plywood floor covered with epoxy resin mixed with cement. Every original iron feature of the Turbine Hall, from the vertical struts, ceiling and gantry crane, to the hand rails is simulated in the scaled-model in pulled aluminium, which has been powder coated to resemble the original features. The roof of the model is made of tin plates and Styrofoam and contains neon lights. The work typifies the artist’s interest in altering reality and everyday experience, in this instance creating a stage-set that playfully questions the degree to which hierarchies are governed by scale.

Both the interior and exterior of the work are considered sculpturally, with visitors invited to enter the space by walking into the sculpture via a ramp. Standing at the centre of the scaled-down Turbine Hall, participants can peer over the bridge which naturally divides the space, but cannot enter further. The full impact of the diminutive space is best experienced with only a few visitors inside the model, so that interaction is in reverse scale to that which one experiences before stepping in; those outside the work watching people inside see the scale reversal between the viewer, the model and the memory of the cavernous size of the actual Turbine Hall. When the sculpture was originally shown in July 2005 at Tate Modern’s Level 2 Gallery, located next to the north landscape near the river, it filled a room, with visitors entering the model directly (without the exterior structure visible). It was subsequently presented in CAC (Centre d’art contemporain) Brétigny in autumn 2005 and at Hamburger Bahnhof in 2013 as a free-standing structure, where all four sides of the work were visible and visitors could walk around the object as well as enter the model.

Tate Modern’s cavernous Turbine Hall (155 metres long by 35 metres high) was first revealed to the public when the new museum opened in 2000. By 2005, when Ondak conceived this work, the vast Turbine Hall had hosted a series of spectacular sculptural commissions as part of the Unilever Series – including Louise Bourgeois’ (1911–2010) three steel towers and Olafur Eliasson’s (born 1967) dazzling sun – and was recognised as an iconic architectural space in its own right. Ondak appropriated the concept of the Turbine Hall to make this scaled-down model, disrupting the hierarchy that the institution’s architecture imposes upon its visitors. The artist has commented:

As behind the realisation of the real Turbine Hall was a huge conglomerate of political, cultural and technical entities, I wanted to stand similarly, but as a single man, behind the whole struggle of building the oversized model of it. The model lacks the vast proportions of the real Turbine Hall that resulted in the big artworks that fill it, and instead it places the viewer in a Lilliputian environment while at the same time the work itself has sculptural monumentality.
(Email correspondence with Tate curator Juliet Bingham, 24 April 2017.)

The intentionally ambiguous title – It Will All Turn Out Right in the End – can be seen to refer to the endeavour to build such an ambitious gallery as the Turbine Hall, or indeed, in Ondak’s case, of the attempt re-build a scaled replica of it. The artist explained:

When the model was seen at the Level 2 Gallery, many overlooked it as art assuming instead that it was there left from the planning of Tate Modern. Then the work was liberated from the setting and installed as a free-standing sculpture at few more art institutions, as if such a Turbine Hall model should serve as a miniaturized, portable version to invade into other institutional and architectural conditions. But in every case, the question arises, why the future tense ‘It will’ and what ‘will turn out right’? This leaves the viewer uncertain about whether something is perhaps unfinished and will be fulfilled in the future. It is in fact the viewer who finishes the artwork. When stepping in, by reversing proportions between the model’s interior, outside world and his own, the piece questions the boundaries and limitations of reality and representation, the delineation of the white cube space and the identification of where art begins and ends. When the viewer returns from the model’s disorder back to reality, the things ‘turn out right’ for him back to order.
(Email correspondence with Bingham, 2017.)

With reference to the relationship between his piece and historical works by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Yves Klein, Piero Manzoni and Michael Asher, Ondak has said, ‘Although the work has a very physical presence, it plays with the notion of immateriality. It stays somewhere between a small replica made after the original, a fake dysfunctional architectural model, a stage to be used in a movie, testing module … Its form suggests anything else than the sculpture. The shift in our perception happens beyond its form.’ (Email correspondence with Bingham, 2017.)

Ondak often aims to provoke a kind of double-take in his work, whether in the form of installation, performance, sculpture, or barely perceptible interventions. The work Good Feelings in Good Times 2003–4 (Tate T11940), for example, is an artificially choreographed queue made up of volunteers and professional actors. According to the artist’s instructions, they form, dissolve and re-form lines at various unexpected spaces, blending in with the general public. For his work entitled Loop at the Venice Biennale in 2009, Ondak turned the interior of the Czech and Slovak Pavilion into a botanical garden that merged seamlessly with the exterior gardens of the Giardini, reversing the relationship between inside and outside, nature and culture. The work played with the disappearance of the pavilion as it merged into its surroundings. Ondak’s often subtle alternations and interventions thus use many different ways in which to transform everyday experience.

Further reading
Pierre Bal-Blanc, Roman Ondak, Here or Elsewhere, exhibition catalogue, Centre d’art contemporain (CAC), Brétigny, 2006, http://www.cacbretigny.com/inhalt/ondak_uk.html, accessed 25 March 2017.
Venice Biennale: Roman Ondak, 2009, video interview, http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/video/venice-biennale-roman-ondak, accessed 25 March 2017.
Roman Ondak, exhibition catalogue, Modern Art Oxford, Kunsthaus Zurich, Kunstsammlung Nordrheiin-Westfalen (K21), Düsseldorf 2011–12.

Juliet Bingham
March 2017

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