After causing a bit of traffic on the Millennium Bridge due to staring in amazement at Ben Wilson’s 400 pieces of chewing gum art, the amazement didn’t end there.
You may already know about the new Switch House building, a space dedicated to installation and performance art and staring into rich people’s flats, but this building really did take many of us by surprise. Built in a brutish yet beautiful design of bare concrete, ‘The Tanks’ (the underground gallery) creates a really intense, inspiring atmosphere. There was one piece in particular that caught our attention. It was a dark room with sensory light which projected shadows onto the rear wall. Simple? Yes, but effective. It really worked as a group experience and pioneers in the idea of art being less of a solitary viewing experience.
I was particularly affected by the intense conceptual art of Louise Bourgeois, who strikes inspiration from many areas of life including birth, love and fear. This exhibition brings together a selection of Bourgeois’s late works, alongside a small number of earlier pieces from her remarkable seven-decade career. Her piece ‘10 am Is When You Come To Me’ consists of twenty hand-painted sheets of musical score paper depicting the hands of the artist and those of her assistant Jerry Gorovoy. The piece powerfully conveys the feeling of both connection and disconnection, symbolising her dependant relationship to Gorovoy.
Many of us enjoyed the installation art. ‘Pavilion Suspended in a Room’ by Cristina Iglesias created an ambiguous sense of transparency which was to be explored, and Ricardo Basbaum’s ‘Cells’ not only gave those who boycotted the escalators at St. Paul’s Station a chance to feel their feet again, but the shared, yet restricted nature of the cells was quite surreal. The caged beds aim to break down normal behaviour and social codes, offering different possibilities for physical and emotional proximity.
Time seemed to stop in Gustav Metzger’s ‘Liquid Crystal Environment’ room, the hypnotising heat-sensitive liquid crystals which are placed between glass slides and inserted into projectors created ripples and mesmerising shapes which we couldn’t help but stare at (whilst reclining on a rather squishy bean bags). Also, I just have to mention ‘Waterlilies’ by Monet, and the much talked about cubic work of Mondrian.
So, what did we learn from this trip? A lot, to put it simply. Art takes on many forms, including painting, sculpture, installation (and chewing gum), the new Switch House building is a beautiful architectural piece of art too, and sometimes art can be more powerful than both words and actions.
But what have you learned from reading this blog post? That you really need to take a look at the Tate Modern (but bring your own sandwich).