07
Mar
09

Semi-rant

I went to the Tate Modern last week to check out Gonzales-Foerster’s installation in the Turbine Hall.

Charlotte Higgins from the Guardian had this to say about it:

To walk into Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster’s new installation at Tate Modern is like walking into a sci-fi movie – a deeply disturbing, rather dark experience in which you the viewer project your own narrative and your own anxieties on to the piece. And, I suspect, with TH.2058 (as it is called), Tate has another Turbine Hall hit on its hands. Not only does it have at its heart the kind of “interactivity” that is so popular among visitors to Tate Modern, but also, with its apocalyptic vision, it seems deeply in tune with the times.’

Well, okay. I wasn’t that impressed. I didn’t find it deeply disturbing but then again Charlotte does justify her wording by saying that the individual projects their own ‘narrative and your own anxieties on to the piece’. Therefore, Charlotte is not reviewing this installation so much as imparting her own innermost fears and thoughts onto the reader.

And anyway, isn’t all art a relationship between piece and viewer?

Also, I have problems with art being popular because people can walk around in it or ‘interact’. Can’t people just spend  even a few minutes contemplating what they’re looking at? This is on the same level as the disappointment you feel when going to a museum only to find it strongly biased towards children. “Pick up this big coloured lid with a shiny handle to see a picture of a trilobite.’ These patronised children will grow up to dismiss any art they can’t ‘interact’ with.

:(

But on…

This explanatory text accompanies the piece:

TH.2058 by Dominique Gonzales-Foerster

OCTOBER 2058 – TATE MODERN – LONDON
It rains incessantly in London – not a day, not an hour without rain, a deluge that has now lasted for years and changed the way people travel, their clothes, leisure activities, imagination and desires. They dream about infinitely dry deserts.

This continual watering has had a strange effect on urban sculptures. As well as erosion and rust, they have started to grow like giant, thirsty tropical plants, to become even more monumental. In order to hold this organic growth in check, it has been decided to store them in the Turbine Hall, surrounded by hundreds of bunks that shelter – day and night – refugees from the rain.

A giant screen shows a strange film, which seems to be as much experimental cinema as science fiction. Fragments of Solaris, Fahrenheit 451 and Planet of the Apes are mixed with more abstract sequences such as Johanna Vaude’s L’Oeil Sauvage but also images from Chris Marker’s La Jetée. Could this possibly be the last film?

On the beds are books saved from the damp and treated to prevent the pages going mouldy and disintegrating. On every bunk there is at least one book, such as JG Ballard’s The Drowned World, Jeff Noon’s Vurt, Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, but also Jorge Luis Borges’s Ficciones and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666.

On one of the beds, hidden among the giant sculptures, a lonely radio plays what sounds like distressed 1958 bossa nova. The mass bedding, the books, images, works of art and music produce a strange effect reminiscent of a Jean-Luc Godard film, a culture of quotation in a context of catastrophe.

In the shelter, the prone figures are reminiscent of Henry Moore’s ‘shelter drawings’, while his sculpture for sheep stands next to a giant apple core by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Museums have been closed for years because of water seepages and the high level of humidity. In the huge collective shelter that the Turbine Hall has become, a fantastical and heterogeneous montage develops, including sculpture, literature, music, cinema, sleeping figures and drops of rain.

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster

And a list of the pieces within the installation:

Bibliography

The Sculptures

Louise Bourgeois
Maman 1999
Tate Collection. Presented by the artist 2008.
Reproduced with permission from the artist

Alexander Calder
Flamingo 1973
Federal Plaza, Chicago
Reproduced with permission from the Calder Foundation, New York

Maurizio Cattelan
Felix 2001
Oil on polyvinyl resin and fibreglass
Courtesy the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York

Henry Moore
Sheep Piece 1971–2
Henry Moore Foundation, Hertfordshire
Reproduced with permission from The Henry Moore Foundation

Bruce Nauman
Untitled (Three Large Animals) 1989
Tate Collection
Reproduced with permission from the artist

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen
Apple Core 1992
Reproduced with the permission of the Oldenburg van Bruggen Foundation
& 2008 Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen

The Last Film

Excerpts from the following:

  • Alphaville Jean-Luc Godard
  • Carnival of Souls Herk Harvey
  • Le Chant du styrene Alain Resnais
  • Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB George Lucas
  • Fahrenheit 451 François Truffaut
  • Gerry Gus Van Sant
  • Un homme qui dort Georges Perec
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers Philip Kaufman
  • La Jetée Chris Marker
  • The Last Wave Peter Weir
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth Nicolas Roeg
  • Mission to Mars Brian De Palma
  • L’Oeil Sauvage Johanna Vaude
  • Outerspace Peter Tscherkassky
  • Planet of the Apes Franklin J Schaffner
  • Region Centrale Michael Snow
  • Repulsion Roman Polanski
  • Solaris Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Soylent Green Richard Fleischer
  • Spiral Jetty Robert Smithson
  • Stalker Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Teorema Pier Paolo Pasolini
  • Toute la mémoire du monde Alain Resnais
  • The War Game Peter Watkins
  • Zabriskie Point Michelangelo Antonioni

The Books

  • Dead Cities Mike Davis
  • The Drowned World JG Ballard
  • Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
  • Ficciones Jorge Luis Borges
  • Le Goût de l’immortalité Catherine Dufour
  • Hiroshima mon amour Marguerite Duras
  • Un homme qui dort Georges Perec
  • La Jetée. Ciné-roman Chris Marker
  • The Lathe of Heaven Ursula Le Guin
  • Luftkrieg und Literatur WG Sebald
  • Make Room! Make Room! Harry Harrison
  • El mal de Montano Enrique Vila-Matas
  • The Man in the High Castle Philip K Dick
  • Pattern Recognition William Gibson
  • The Purple Cloud MP Shiel
  • 2666 Roberto Bolaño
  • V for Vendetta David Lloyd / Alan Moore
  • Vurt Jeff Noon
  • The War of the Worlds HG Wells
  • We Yevgeny Zamyatin

tate-copy-4

Honestly, I found reading the lists here much more involving than the installation.

Then again, I projected my own feelings and ‘anxieties’ onto the piece – as everyone else does with all art!


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