Things are beginning to grow in Empty Lot in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern. When I first saw the installation back November, shortly after it was set up, it looked too boring for me to pay it much attention; that has all changed. The work by the Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas comprises dozens of triangular planters each filled with earth donated from different parks around London. Water and light is provided but nothing else has been added apart from time. Ten weeks ago, all the triangles looked sterile but clearly they were not; today little patches of green are beginning to appear.
It is the sense of possibility and uncertainty that makes this project interesting. The explanation on the wall, written when it was first set up, points out that there was a risk nothing might grow; that certainly hasn’t happened. The notice also recognised the possibility that the public might introduce seeds. To what extent they have done so, it is currently impossible to tell but might well become clear over the coming weeks. If this happens I imagine it will only be to the nearer plots; most are safely out of reach unless anybody manages to smuggle in a seed scattering drone. I did make out what looked like a number of donated cherry stones in one patch, along with a few 2p coins and the odd bit of silver paper– it seems we can make a wishing well out of anything.
Could some of those seedlings that are optimistically putting up first leaves possibly be marijuana? – I am not a good enough gardener to tell but I could see that might appeal to somebody’s sense of humour; I was more certain about identifying dandelions, cow parsley, a baby sycamore a stinging nettle and in several plots the current bane of my gardening life, bindweed, both greater and lesser. There was a very healthy looking spikey shoot in one plot, presumably from some overlooked bulb. As yet there are no flowers but give it a few more weeks and I’m sure they will appear.
The explanation on the wall spoke of the sense of hope that was represented by the work, which just goes to show how all artworks can be subject to individual interpretation. For me, it was a pretty good demonstration of why I hate gardening. You work hard to get a plot free from weeds, turn your back for a moment, and it is as if you had never bothered.