At the start of our course, we visited the Tate Modern in London. I’d not been before so I wasn’t sure what to expect! One of the beautiful things about the Tate Modern is that they work with the fabric of the building. All around it you can see hints to its past life as Battersea Power Station.
Our first stop at the Tate was to head down to the Tank Room to experience the Active Sculpture exhibition. This is a BMW sponsored exhibition comprising of three interactive pieces from the 1960’s as well as a new piece by Tarek Atoui.
The first thing you notice when walking in, is the sheer scale of the tanks and their well preserved industrial quality, which complements the first piece of sculpture you arrive at: Rasheed Araeen’s piece ‘Zero to Infinity’ (1968-1997)
As per the artist’s instruction the piece is periodically rearranged, and had been the Friday before our visit. The idea is that there are an infinite amount of combinations it can be arranged into. It is important to Araeen that the symmetry of the piece is occasionally broken by this process of rearrangement. The size of the tank room belies the vastness of this piece, and from different angles, like the one above, it appears infinite in an entirely different way.
‘Untitled’ (1965) by Robert Morris is a set of 4 large, mirrored cubes. These interested me, partially because I am a magpie with a fondness for shiny objects, but mainly because I discovered that by angling myself opposite to an edge one can disappear from the reflection entirely as you can see from the resultant picture:
This interaction between the viewer and the piece is part of Morris’ aim, as along with other spectators moving past, the involvement of a person changes the way the sculpture appears and is perceived by everyone who is looking at that moment. I enjoyed experimenting with where I stood in order to make myself vanish, which is quite a surreal experience when you are expecting to see your reflection.
There were also a work by Charlotte Posenenske ‘Revolving Vane’ (1987) These were painted particle board cubes that can be rearranged by opening and closing different doors, to make different rooms.
At the back of the room were the instruments of Tarek Atoui’s ‘The Reverse Collection’. This was a piece of performance art that was performed daily, recorded and then overlayed with the previous recordings to create an increasingly rich and deep recording. There is more information on that here and you can watch a performance on TateShots below:
After leaving the Tank Room, we took a quite detour into the room next door which was full of screens showing the work of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s ‘Primitive 2009’.
Whilst it was quite an overwhelming experience, the effect of multiple layers of sound and film was interesting, especially the way that by manipulating media you can create an entirely different narrative to the simple one that was filmed; in this instance films of a small border town into a ghost story.
We visited one of the Artist’s Rooms and the Materials and Objects exhibition in the Boiler House after we had finished in the Tank Room, which I will tackle in separate posts.