What do you want for Christmas?
I want nothing. A tree is fine. Artist Sadotti celebrates this year with a tree that is without decoration. That is the artist’s statement. You know, if it still has its roots in the ground, that would be better still. I hope it does.
“Tate Britain's Christmas tree decorated with nothing
Many people may be left wondering where the decorations are when they view the Christmas tree located in London's Tate Britain this year, as the tree is bare.
The gallery commissioned Giorgio Sadotti, an artist who used to work as a professional corporate Christmas tree decorator in New York, to create the Tate Britain Christmas piece this year.
The nine-metre Norwegian spruce, decorated only with its needles and called Flower Ssnake, has silver cards and a coiled bullwhip lying at its base. The cards contain information on a twelfth night performance, during which the bullwhip will be used to drive the spirit of Christmas from the gallery.
A Tate Britain press release stated that Sadotti is known for an art practice that “celebrates the power of the nothing,” and that by not decorating the tree he is asking people to think about its potential.
“For me the challenge was to present a tree that was naturally effortless,” said Sadotti in the press release. “A tree that managed to maintain its dignity and timeless grace. A tree that remained sublime. A tree that was familiar but strange, like all trees but no other. A tree that had potential to become another. A tree that talked. A tree as a tree as art.”
Sadotti, who was born in Manchester and is now based in London, is the 23rd artist asked to design a tree for the Tate.
"In a way, I strive to make my work look simple,” The Guardian quoted him as saying. “If someone says, 'Your work's a bit easy,' then for me that's the perfect compliment. I want something to look like it was no effort because I lose interest if something looks like it was a lot of work."
He insists that he is taking the project seriously.
“If I wasn’t, it would have been all too easy to just put a few decorations on a tree,” The Telegraph quoted him as saying.
“When you see a tree in the forest you don’t think, 'That tree’s naked, it needs a bit of tinsel.’ I want people to question the way objects are transformed by being moved from one context to another. And I’m hoping that all the Christmases of the past will be brought to mind through the power of the imagination.”
Previous Christmas pieces have included trees decorated with steel blackbirds, beeswax candles, model planes, dried fruit, tights and wire, a bin filled with Christmas rubbish, an interactive pedal-powered display and a message saying the tree had been given away and asking people to donate to charity.
The current tree will be on display from 10 December 2010 until 5 January 2011, when a free performance will take place, as the spirit of Christmas is driven out.
“Places to the event are free and details are printed on decorated flyers which visitors can keep as a reminder,” states the gallery’s press release. “To ensure a place at the performance, free tickets can be collected from the Tate Members’ desk in the Rotunda.”
Pictures of many of the trees can be view on The Guardian's website.