Little Sun is a Cheap Solar Light and a Work of Art

little sunTate Modern/Promo image

Little Sun is a solar-powered light created by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson because he was concerned about getting affordable and accessible light to people in places where electricity is not reliable or even available.

It's also a piece of art. As the artist explains:

Light is for everyone – it determines what we do and how we do it. This is why Frederik Ottesen and I have developed the solar-powered lamp Little Sun. Little Sun is a small work of art with a large reach. One part of the artwork is the lamp and the activities it enables. The other is the successful distribution of Little Sun in off-grid communities, its journey from production to usage

Here's the art part. This summer, Little Sun will visit London's Tate Modern in order to raise awareness about the need to improve access to energy for the 1.6 billion people who do not have electricity.

In a genius co-production, every Saturday night, from ten to midnight, the lights will go off in two galleries: the Surrealists and the Realists. Patrons will have to buy and then use their own personal Little Sun to light their way.
The artist was inspired by history: visitors to the opening of the International Surrealist Exhibition in Paris in 1938 were issued with flash lights distributed by the photographer Man Ray.

little sunBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

It will be a whole new way of looking at art--with art--and should be quite illuminating. Think Salvador Dali in the dark...with a hundred other people.

In 2003 Eliasson had a phenomenally popular exhibition in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern. Called The Weather Project, he lit up the huge dark hall and replicated mist and the sun and moon. People spent hours lying on the floor watching the changing lights.

little sunBonnie Alter/CC BY 2.0

Little Sun's use at the Tate is building on that popularity and Eliassson's interest in the weather. But it is also promoting a passionate cause of his: accessibility of light for all.

In everyday life, it is important that we critically engage in global initiatives and local contexts. Our actions have consequences for the world. Little Sun is a wedge that opens up the urgent discussion about bringing sustainable energy to all from the perspective of art.

Little Sun is a Cheap Solar Light and a Work of Art
This little solar light, featured at London's Tate Modern Art Gallery, is designed to help people without electricity.

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