Olafur Eliasson is probably best-known for his highly successful The weather project (2003), part of the Unilever Series in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, which drew over 2 million visitors during its five-month installation.
The artist has developed the Little Sun solar-powered lamp with the engineer Frederik Ottesen to focus attention on the power of solar light to improve lives. Around 1.6 billion people worldwide live without access to mains electricity. Many of them rely on kerosene lanterns for lighting, which is both expensive and a health hazard. Little Sun brings light to people in off-grid locations, enabling them to work, reduce household expenses and improve the quality of life.
Starting on 28 July, people will be invited to participate in Tate Blackouts on Saturday nights after ordinary museum hours. For two hours, the lights will go off in the former power station and visitors can look at the works of art in the suite of galleries devoted to Tate Modern’s Surrealist collection using only the light of Little Sun lamps. This echoes the 1938 International Surrealist Exhibition at the Galérie des Beaux-Arts,Paris, where Man Ray (as ‘Master of Light’) supplied the visitors with torches to explore the labyrinthine galleries.
Beyond the Tate Blackout events, Olafur Eliasson: Little Sun will feature in a space on the third floor of the gallery from 28 July to 23 September, where visitors can learn about solar power, the global energy challenge, light and its importance in and for life. It will also include a special set-up for people to do light graffiti using the Little Sun and offer the opportunity to buy a lamp for $25.