Page last updated at 09:27 GMT, Friday, 22 May 2009 10:27 UK

Morris installation returns to Tate


David Sillito joins art lovers as they try out the installation

Almost 40 years after work by US artist Robert Morris was wrecked at the then Tate Gallery by an "exuberant" public, Tate is about to do it all again.

Morris' 1971 work is being recreated for UBS Openings: The Long Weekend in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern this weekend.

The original installation comprised large geometric objects and sculptures that the public were invited to physically interact with - a first for the gallery.

But few had anticipated the enthusiastic response from the participating visitors to the work.

Following a number of minor injuries it was closed after four days, due to the "exuberance and excited behaviour" of the public that resulted in the piece being damaged.

We feel that people are much more used to participating in art than they were 38 years ago
Catherine Wood, Tate Modern

The Financial Times wrote at the time: "What had been unforeseen was the athletic energy of the visitors and the unbridled enthusiasm with which they tried everything out, staying much longer than is statistically normal for an exhibition visitor."

The installation, entitled Bodyspacemotionthings, will open on Friday, where visitors will be able to climb, balance, crawl and sliding around a series of architectural and sculptural shapes.

Unlike 1971, the latest incarnation will adhere to very modern health and safety guidelines, with raw, unfinished materials being swapped for materials like plywood and rubber.

Catherine Wood, of Tate Modern, told the BBC she hoped people would be less enthusiastic this time around.

Richard Morris's installtion in 1971
The 1971 installation was closed after four days

She said: "We feel that people are much more used to participating in art than they were 38 years ago.

"We are going to be monitoring it very carefully because we usually have 100,000 visitors over the long weekend."

Morris said he wanted people to use his work to "become aware of their own bodies, gravity, effort, fatigue, their bodies under different conditions".

He said: "I want to provide a situation where people can become more aware of themselves and their own experience rather than more aware of some version of my experience."

Will Gompertz, director of Tate Media, said Morris's original installation was one of the first truly interactive works of art, inviting and challenging audiences to participate.

He said: "Recreating Morris's work for UBS Openings: The Long Weekend in the Turbine Hall reminds us of the importance of that moment over 38 years ago when visitors first encountered a participatory work of art.

"It will be interesting to see how they respond this time round."

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