Tate Modern

A few weeks ago while in London I visited some exhibits in the Tate Modern.

The first thing we saw was a huge installation in the Turbine Hall. Devised by Abraham Cruzvillegas, “Empty Lot” consists of a grid of triangular raised beds, tessellated on a scaffolding platform reminiscent of a ships deck. The soil in the beds has been collected from various London parks but planted with nothing. Instead the idea is to allow what is already contained within – weeds, wild flowers, seeds visitors sneakily scatter themselves – to appear over the course of the 6 month installation. The art of it is simply not knowing.

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I like this idea because it’s creation involved the employment of many local trades-people and volunteers meaning that it benefited the local community and economy. I believe that art having a positive effect on these things is admirable, especially when funded by such a big investor like Hyundai. It will also spark discussion about sustainable agriculture and role of horticulture etc. in an urban environment.

An area of the collection focused on history of protest across the world. There was an enormous cardboard picture created by Andrea Bower. Titled “” it was inspired by an illustration from 1895 by Walter Crane and published in a socialist magazine of the time. Bower chose to rework this image on cardboard, using permanent marker pen, as these are materials most commonly used by 21st century protesters. She also updated some of the words to reflect more relevant current issues.

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Seeing Twenty Questions by Lorna Simpson had a big influence on my essay topic. This piece consists of 4 photographs displayed in circular frames. The shape may refer to an embroidery hoop, a common symbol of feminity. The photographs are of the back of a woman’s (the artists) head, leaving identity ambiguous. The plaques beneath pose questions featuring similes regarding her appearance, personality and intellect.
I have gone on to research Simpson’s and am interested in the way her work confronts issues of gender, race and identity within modern Western culture, as well as subverting language and judgements. The use of images alongside subversive language is powerfully thought-provoking.

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