A major new artwork, filling one of London's most prestigious and largest exhibition spaces, comprises more than 14,000 polyethylene casts of the interiors of cardboard boxes.
Titled Embankment, after the location of the Tate Modern gallery on the River Thames in London, the work is by the internationally renowned artist Rachel Whiteread and will remain on display until April 2. The gigantic labyrinthine structure, comprising piles of the full-size boxes, occupies the Turbine Hall of the gallery, which was converted from a power station just six years ago and is now one of the world's most widely visited art galleries.
The concept began with an old, worn cardboard box Whiteread found when going through her mother's belongings shortly after she died. She found the box in her mother's house and remembered how it had had many lives: It used to reside in her own toy cupboard, next to piles of board games, and at one point was filled with Christmas decorations. Over time its sides started to collapse, the printed logo on the outside faded, and the lid came to shine with the traces of all the plastic tape used to bind it up over the years.
Although the inspiration for Embankment came from a single box, Whiteread selected a number of differently shaped old boxes to construct the installation for Turbine Hall. She filled them with plaster, peeled away the exteriors and was left with perfect casts, each recording and preserving all the bumps and indentations on the inside.
``They are ghosts of interior spaces or, if you like, positive impressions of negative spaces,'' the gallery suggested. ``Yet Whiteread wanted to retain their quality as containers, so she had them refabricated in a translucent PE, which reveals a sense of an interior. And rather than make precious objects of them, she constructed thousands.''
As one of Britain's leading contemporary sculptors, Whiteread has undertaken several public commissions.
She was awarded the Turner Prize in 1993 for House, a full-sized cast of the inside of a typical London house. More recently she completed the Holocaust memorial in Vienna, and Monument, a clear polyurethane casting of an inverted plinth that was displayed on an empty plinth in Trafalgar Square, one of London's major open spaces.
The Embankment installation is the latest in the celebrated Unilever Series of commissions for Turbine Hall.