Due to mass recommendation I visited London’s Tate Modern on October 9th, to browse “The Tanks” installations. For those who don’t know, The Tanks is the Tate’s new space. A wonderful space, I have to say – reminiscent of an underground bunker. Upon entering, the smell of wet paint, damp, and general musk tickles your nose hairs and instantly makes you feel like you’re in some sort of Fallout-esque ruin (or perhaps that was just me?). I was instantly intrigued. I’d heard from various people that this exhibition was a must see for any fan of techy installations.
Adjacent to The Tanks foyer are several rooms, each housing a different installation. Working left to right, we began with Suzanne Lacy’s work. My knowledge on Lacy was limited – having only ever heard of her piece The Crystal Quilt(1987), which, via video, we were greeted with when walking into her section.
As we wandered through a dark narrow corridor, we found ourselves in an ominous, hazy, pitch-black room, empty, save two projectors, shining their projectiony goodness at each other, causing a fusion of white light in the middle of the room, accompanied by and eerie soundscape playing through hidden speakers. I’d been told by a couple of people that this was the pièce de résistance of the day….and whilst I did find it quite entertaining and an interesting concept, there is only so much skipping through beams of light casting humorous shadows that a man can do. After maturity gripped me, I thought that I should probably read the information tablet on this particular instillation. Turns out that this was Light Music by Liz Rhodes – a remake of a her 1975 work. After studying the info tablet, I realised that this piece was actually extremely clever! A feminist piece, Light Music was Rhodes’ response to what she perceived as the lack of paid to women composers in European music (thank you very much, Tate Modern website). In fact, their description of the piece as a whole is probably more informative than my vague description:
“She composed a ‘score’ comprised of drawings that form abstract patterns of black and white lines onscreen. The drawings are printed onto the optical edge of the filmstrip. As the bands of light and dark pass through the projector they are ‘read’ as audio, creating an intense soundtrack, forming a direct, indexical relationship between the sonic and the visual. What one hears is the aural equivalent to the flickering patterns on the screens.”
Rhodes’ piece mixes and utilises sound, visual and stage-smoke effects, and as such is a visceral treat for all the senses!
I had hoped to return from the Tate brimming with new dissertation ideas…but, alas, this did not happen. Although somewhat interesting, these installations didn’t really do anything for me. There was nothing there that made me stop and think “I must have this!” The whole exhibition is free to get in, so it’s definitely worth seeing if you have a couple of hours to kill, but personally, nothing struck me as particularly amazing. We saw a couple of arty films too by artists such as Sung Hwan Kim and Aldo Tambellini, but to me, this all just seemed a bit pretentious. I’m sure they were deep and meaningful, but they just didn’t appeal to me. We were also bombarded by a group of people who claimed to be performing Tino Sehgal’s These Associations, though I think that they just wanted attention. A group of about five girls ran up to us and whispered in our ear “this is These Associations!” before running off again. One of them had an overwhelming stench of BO, so I must admit that I was a bit distracted, but from what I saw, the piece appeared to consist of people running around and occasionally performing sporadic actions and movements. Again, I’m sure it was deep and meaningful, and I’m generally a very liberal person when it comes to the “what is performance” argument, but….I didn’t know what I was watching.
Oh, one final though – why is the Tate also synonymous with hipsters? Seriously, so many of them. I imagine that they were definitely getting all the meanings of these pieces- things that us normal folk aren’t deep enough to see. Bloody hipsters…
Anyway, as far as a first blog post goes, I think that this was ok? They’ll get better and more detailed, I promise…
For more information on The Tanks instillations, check out the page on the Tate Modern’s webpage.