Kara Walker’s commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, the massive fountain Fons Americanus (2019), will be taken apart, destroyed, and recycled for later use. The monumental sculpture was set to be exhibited through April 5th, but its display ended early when the Tate museums group closed its four branches mid-March due to COVID-19. The institution’s latest Hyundai commission, Walker’s fountain was critically acclaimed and seen by thousands of visitors.
Fons Americanus was constructed with mostly recyclable materials—like reusable cork and wood—in accordance with the Tate’s dedication to environmental sustainability. Last year, Walker told The Art Newspaper: “I would hope some aspect of it would have another life. It has all the possibilities for living beyond its present [form].” Walker’s previous monumental public artwork, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby (2014), at Brooklyn’s Domino Sugar refinery, also ended in demolition.
Walker’s 42-foot-tall structure spiraled up from two circular pools of crystalline water. Unveiled in October during Frieze Week, the fountain pulled inspiration from the monumental Victoria Memorial fountain in front of Buckingham Palace. Though the exhibition ended prematurely, video documentation of Walker’s work can be viewed on Tate’s website.