Matt Gibson (gothick_matt) wrote,
Matt Gibson

Tate Modern

Staring into the abyssYesterday I fancied getting back to Bristol fairly directly from London, but I couldn't resist swinging by the South Bank and the Tate Modern. The Tate was, as usual, completely fab.

My favourite piece, as is often the case, was the current Turbine Hall installation, Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth. Salcedo has mostly taken away bits of the Turbine Hall to make her artwork, rather than bringing something -- it's a crack that runs the length of the hall, starting as a tiny crack in the floor, splitting up occasionally, until it finally seems to disappear under the far wall.

This is my kind of art because it's big, bold, and in this case, because it's a good bit of "thinking outside the box", if I can drag a worn old cliché out to use for a piece of shiny new art. It also gets you thinking, and gets you talking, and the kids loved it, which is obviously a good sign :)

Crack with manIt's also slightly dangerous: there are signs up everywhere warning people that it's a trip hazard, and that they should keep an eye on their children, and so on. After sticking my hand in the depths of the crack (oo-er) to take a picture (feeling glad I'd not bought that SLR I want yet, as it would never have fitted!) I went to ask the nearest staff member about the problems they'd had.

"How many cameras have you had to fish out so far?"
"Oh, I'm not sure. Maybe around fifteen? That's not so much of a problem as the people tripping over. I mean, it's a big space, and they get talking as they're wandering around, and before you know it, they're on the floor..."

Descent to the Turbine HallHeh. Anyway. I successfully didn't drop my camera, and so it was up the escalators and into the rest of it. I generally just wandered around fairly randomly, knowing that I didn't want to spend the time on a systematic visit.

I'm not very good at describing art, or why I like some of it and don't like other stuff. In the finest traditions, I just know what I like :) However, the description of Magritte's Man with a Newspaper did help me verbalise why I love Magritte so much. It described his style as "deadpan", and that hit the nail on the head for me. It really is deadpan humour, and I enjoy it in paintings as much as a enjoy it in real life, so I'm glad they had the Magritte out.

Of the more usual suspects, my favourites were probably Peter Peri's Mr Collins from the A.R.P., which captures a face wonderfully, and Edward Burra's The Snack Bar, which is a literal slice of life, capturing a lot of emotion in an everyday event. Oh, and I still haven't figured out whether I like Francis Bacon.

As usual, though, it was the bigger, more interactive stuff that I found most interesting. I like art that's big enough to walk around in. Sol LeWitt's Six Geometric Figures were painted from floor to ceiling on all walls of one of the gallery-connecting rooms, and produced a quite disturbing visual effect that had me slowly spinning around as I walked, feeling a little disoriented. Claes Oldenburg's Giant 3-Way Plug Scale 2/3, hanging from the ceiling, had a similar effect, as I saw it from a distance and approached it in a spiral, staring up, and nearly getting caught out by one of those tripwires that's meant to keep you away from the more touchably-appealingly pieces :)

My pick of "able to walk inside" art, though, was Cristina Iglesias's Pavilion Suspended in a Room I, a structure made of a lattice of what looked like those flat braided electrical conductors (like big, solid, industrial-size versions of the stuff that Scalextric cars use to pick up the electricity from the track.) I could make out letters made up in geometric forms in the grid of the braid, and it turned out that these were an extract from Arthur C Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama, so perhaps that also appealed to the science fiction fan in me. I loved walking around this, walking inside it, trying to look through it at various angles, and trying to make out the words that were spelled out in it, trying to figure out what it was for, what it was trying to say. That, in itself, captures the atmosphere in the Rendezvous with Rama pretty well, which was presumably a part of the point, at least.

One other mention in dispatches goes to Steve McQueen's Drumroll, which sounds like it should be a film -- and is. It's a video triptych created by putting two cameras at either end of a barrel, on the axis of rotation, and another one in the middle on the circumference, then rolling it down the street in New York. It was big and hypnotic and dizzying and interesting. Oh, and I just found out here that this one is a Turner Prize winner, so obviously people apart from me quite enjoyed it, too :)

Train Window 2At that point, I figured that I should be heading home. My feet were sore -- standing up at the gig all night on Friday hadn't helped -- and sitting down for two hours on a train would be an unusually welcome relief. So, stopping only briefly to take out a small overdraft to pay for a meal in the Tate's café -- could've been worse, really, a lot of these places are overpriced and crap, at least the Tate's food is overpriced and very good -- I headed for Paddington to make my slightly weary way home. Best thing about the journey was getting to Bristol in the afternoon and remembering that it was Saturday! Normally when I'm coming back from London it's on a Sunday evening and I have to go back to work in the morning without time to debrief/recover/get my act back together.

And there you have my plan for the day in a nutshell: debrief/recover/get my act back together... My photos from the weekend are up on Flickr, I've updated LJ, now I need to go buy some chocolates for Su, whose Pimlico flat I borrowed again, buy a card for someone, do my weekly review (I'm trying to stick to GTD a bit more religiously this year) and get through quite a lot of laundry... Catch you later, peeps :)
Tags: art, going out, pictures, tate

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