diamond geezer

 Wednesday, November 13, 2013

JUBILEE: Southwark

With all the building work taking place at Tate Modern at the moment, the latest in The Unilever Series has gone mostly unnoticed. The landmark art project which currently fills the Turbine Hall is more understated than most, that's for sure. There is no blazing sun on the far wall, no crack snaking across the floor, no set of metal spirals to slide down. Instead a more subtle work has appeared, encompassing the void in an entirely new way, yet still with its own original voice.

Tate Modern: Ischan Ging
The Unilever Series:
May 2013 - January 2014

The first hint that something unusual is afoot comes on attempting to access the Turbine Hall via the usual channels. The main entrance from the west is sealed off, preventing access down the usual sloping walkway into the heart of the building. Instead visitors must approach along the passage past the cafe, squeezing past the queue for scones, where a high temporary barrier shields the view. One's senses are truly heightened - what is the mystery behind? Playfully there are no clues until three portholes appear on the right hand side, each of a different size and at a different height. The Tate have positioned a security guard close by in case these vantage points become too popular, but thankfully I was fortunate in timing my visit so as to observe without obstruction.

The latest Turbine Hall installation is somewhat of a triptych, as befits a masterwork of note. From this location only the central section is properly visible, this being the raised mezzanine overlooking the rest of the hall. Initially all appears empty, but look again. The barrier around the top of the stairs has been replaced by metal pipework, erupting from a wooden framework skirting the rim. This tableau reflects the safety-conscious nature of our modern society, encompassing risk and order within its temporary frame. This theme is further echoed by a red-framed installation close by - Twin Extinguishers of Fire - which stands poised and ready to put out the raging flames of 21st century society.

Again, closer inspection bears dividends. The floor is covered in a thick layer of dust, reminiscent of Ai Weiwei's carpet of porcelain sunflower seeds exhibited here in 2010. Throughout this powder carpet can be seen trails of repeated patterns forming sinuous lines across the floor. These are the footprints of the performance artists who labour daily to create the impression of a building site, an illusion so deftly created you might even believe it were true. Three further portholes on the northern side suggest the existence of extension works beyond, as if the gallery were expanding both vertically and horizontally to meet artistic need. As if.

Accessing the remainder of the Turbine Hall installation can be problematic - indeed building access is severely compromised for the duration of the work. There are no escalators up from the first floor, they merely sail past, so a more physical approach is required. Walk down to reach the start of the incline, else take the back stairs to ascend in dark twists. You may struggle with the crowds, so comprehensively has the Turbine Hall's temporary quarantine compromised access to the upper levels. But oh what vista awaits from the glass gallery on floor two. The entire void is opened up with unobstructed views to left and right, and only now can one fully appreciate the true extent of this year's project.

At the eastern end of the hall, seemingly nothing. No piles of cardboard boxes, no expanse of bunkbeds, no giant screen. All that's visible are the sober brick walls of this former generating station and a high vertical window. And yet this surely is the very conceit the artist has attempted to expose, showcasing the structure's very ordinariness as a counterpoint to creative hubris, or something.

To appreciate the substance of the western section - the slope down from Bankside to basement level - an increase in elevation is recommended. Climb to the third floor, or better still ascend to the fourth, to absorb the panorama. What disturbance is this? The entire floor has been ripped up, even the remains of Doris Salcedo's concrete crevice scarred here five years back. Scattered about are piles of rubble - some rocks, some pipework - seemingly random yet assembled with painstaking accuracy. A small digger has been placed parallel to the main door, again precisely aligned, close to a very lifelike sculpture of a wheelbarrow. Dust lies everywhere, some scraped as if by persistent motion into lifelike swirls. Meanwhile on the far wall a giant wooden scaffold rises high, then higher, its lower strata sheathed in translucent plastic skin. The overall result is a bold statement of intent, a parable for our times, an unmistakeable composition.

If you're on fourth, look to the right to view the project's crowning glory. A new footbridge is being installed at vertigo-inducing height, designed to link the existing galleries to the new. You'll need a head for heights to cross, but for now access is blocked, available only via imagination. Instead the Tate distracts with artworks under the umbrella of 'Structure and Clarity, from Mondrian to Jarman, in adjacent rooms opened for many a long year. But when the Herzog & de Meuron extension opens in 2016, this skyway path will be an alternative gateway to pyramidal heights. Until then the Turbine Hall's latest installation offers tantalising glimpses of creative horizons as yet unattained, of dreams unbidden, of aesthetic destiny. Visit soon, or maybe best wait a bit.

» Tate Modern is changing

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this month?
28 Jan – 23 Apr (10am-4.30pm)
Sussex Modernism
The sixth annual exhibition at Two Temple Place focuses on radical art/writing in Sussex, and is damned excellent.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Feb17  Jan17
Dec16 Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards