Tate Triennial – Tate Britain

What did I like at the Tate Triennial?

For me the piece that seemed the most interesting was the first that I came across, but I don’t think that’s particularly significant – it’s not that I got subsequently overwhelmed with the number of works, it’s that the rest of the pieces just didn’t interest me as much.

As you progress down the Duveen Galleries, which are a long series of classically designed top-lit spaces, reaching the full height of the building, which form a spine to the Tate Britain, you’re introduced to the Triennial with the work of Rebecca Warren and Scott Myles.

Myles’ The End of Summer is the piece, the one that interested me the most, with it’s re-presention of his encounter with Rirkrit Tiravanija’s Untitled, 2001 (no fire no ashes) (also included in the piece).

I think it’s a problem (or problematic, I suppose) when Myle’s piece neuters the crux of Tiravanija’s piece by divorcing it from it’s original context, using it as an context-lite object standing in as the distanced subject of Myles’ own piece. What meaning has the statement “Never Work” now? It’s become just an oddity against the great questioning uncertainty of Myle’s work.

Or has it? Doesn’t it force us to reassess the piece’s original actions, in the light of another person’s reaction to the piece, proposing that it succeeds or fails on the observer’s terms? From Tiravanija’s point of view it seems risky/odd to make the work try and survive without it’s original contextual meaning. And for Myles, does the Untitled, 2001 (no fire no ashes) become a permanent part of The End of Summer? If not, in what form will it live on – can it survive without without close proximity to it’s conceptual precedent?

That said, I liked the idea of the personal view of the piece and the conception of the mediated life of an artwork being presented as the art. I wasn’t really impressed with the screenprints as objects in themselves, so I cannot see them being particularly effective without the bricked up doorway.

I also really liked Nicole Wermer’s Untitled (Ashtray) and its reference to Brancusi, but as always it seemed a pity that such a potentially functional object should be accompanied with warning signs not too touch.

And what’s with using Liam Gillick‘s piece as the brand for the show? I think this adds a whole other level of meaning to the pieces that I wouldn’t have got just by seeing them in the gallery. Or is this following the appropriation theme of the show? Or is this following Gillick’s own ethos?

And why is there such a difference in the colours on the catalogue cover compared to the leaflet? Bad printing?

Patrick Keiller – London + Robinson in Space

Two films by Patrick Keiller.

Patrick was my tutor at Middlesex University, so a touch of nostalgia led me to purchase the BFI’s DVD release of London and Robinson in Space. I think that the tutors were encouraged to present their own to work to the students and I remember that Patrick showed London. This must have been 1994, the year it was released, and the year of my graduation, although I have a feeling it was earlier than that, so we may have seen a pre-release version.

I think I was placed with Patrick as my tutor because of my interest and semi-background in Architecture (Patrick having been an Architect). After leaving school, at age 18, I immediately began the BA in Architecture at Kingston University, which ended ignominiously two years later having not progressed beyond the first year of the course.

The films are wonderfully evocative series of scenes. Having lived in the areas mentioned in London all my life until 5 years ago, it felt very familiar and homely.

The techniques of filming used—the long shots of seemingly bland areas, the static camera, the invisible protagonists—encourage an increased concentration on the scenes in the frame. They also seem to merge the activities taking place into a flat tableau with a distinct emphasis on the artistic presentation of the human and semi-natural landscape. In Robinson in Space almost every scene seemed to be organised around a centered point which becomes the point of focus no matter what else is happening on screen. This also occurs in London, e.g. the very first scenes of the cruise liner being drawn through the almost perfectly framed Tower Bridge.

Strangely, Robinson seems almost rushed in comparison to London. The Narrator has much more information to impart about poets, philosophers and scientists, the history of places, and there is less about the interplay between himself and Robinson. On the whole Robinson is as good as London, but it has a different modus operandi.

I loved both films. They made me think of Proust and boredom and observing the world from a distance.

(music | art) criticism

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the things that interest me. My main area of interest has always been Art, but another area that has inspired me as much is Music. Although Music has always been the more accessible of these two areas, Art is the one in which I have the experience and ability (if only I had continued my Clarinet lessons when I was 14, things could have been so different…).

The consideration of my interests has also prompted me to think about how Theory is now inextricably bound up with my appreciation of Art in a way that is not the case for Music. For me I would say that Art demands such an investment in extra information, or perhaps I expect that Art should require it. I no longer have an unmediated response to Art, my thought patterns include a ‘theory filter’ that pre-processes Art and preps it for analysis.

There is no reason why Music could not be considered in this way. Indeed for many this is the norm, but I hope that I never get to the stage where I think of Music in the way that I think of Art.

Let me explain. Music for me is an enjoyment with little significance beyond a thrill which is temporary. To introduce analysis into the equation would interrupt that thrill. This is absolutely not to reduce the value of this thrill – finding a good piece of music is one of the most moving experiences I know. Keeping up with the artists, labels, genres and developments is endlessly fascinating. But I also value its disconnectedness from an over-analysed view of the subject.

This is why Music is not my métier and Art is – I am perfectly happy to be a dilettante where Music is concerned, whereas with Art I combine my emotional reaction to the work with the desire for a deeper understanding of the piece and my reaction to it and from there…who knows?

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