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[personal profile] mirrorshard
This was last Saturday, or the Day of the Great Whale, and I've been meaning to post about it since, but not got around to it. I went up to London to look at the house in Leytonstone I am planning on sharing with [livejournal.com profile] pfy, and it seemed a shame not to go do a few other things while I was at it.

The original plan was to meet up with [livejournal.com profile] nou and visit museumland, probably for some random subset of the parts of the V&A I didn't see with [livejournal.com profile] owlfish a few weeks ago, but since [livejournal.com profile] nou's lack of sleep had caught up with her and my sister had been enthusing over the Rachel Whiteread exhibition (EMBANKMENT, it's called) that's currently (at time of writing, natch) occupying the turbine hall of Tate Modern, I decided to wander over there instead.

I was being a complete ditz that morning, missing a Tube stop, getting off at a different wrong one on a can't-be-bothered-changing-any-more whim, and - worst of all - managing to leave the house without a book to read on the train. Fortunately, I managed to pick up a Guardian, with all the absurd amounts of pointless sectionage Saturday papers have, and that kept me going without even needing to resort to the drastic action of reading the sports pages. (Tangentially, I like the new Berliner format a lot, it's more wieldy and looks good.)

Got there eventually, though, wandering past Westminster and the London Eye (large pieces of fantastically pretty engineering make excellent orienteering markers, especially when you know they're a stone's throw from, er, something that's a stone's throw from somewhere you want to go) and walked past a Dali exhibition (advertised by a man dressed as a Daliesque French maitre'd with white gloves and upcurling moustaches and a lobster), the best enormous outdoor bookshop on the South Bank (not resisting the temptation to buy anything, because for once, sadly, I didn't see anything that tempted me, though I was looking, given my lack of books), and the Globe. (Another tangent, this one a rant - what is it about buskers who feel compelled, when you give them money for playing nice music, to stop playing nice music in the middle and say "thank you"? Always makes me want the money back.)

The turbine hall exhibition itself - well, the easiest thing to do is link in my handy phone-cam pictures, since there were nice signs encouraging us to take pics, or at least saying "Photography is only permitted in the turbine hall". http://www.flickr.com/photos/ravenmagic/tags/tatemodern/

For those of you who don't know much about modern art, but know what you like, here's the ha'penny guide to Rachel Whiteread (or the tour-de-force, as my German quantum mechanics professor used to call it). She's interested in insides, in negative space (ie. the space enclosed by Stuff - [livejournal.com profile] hellison may see some archaeological parallels here), and in containers. This particular one was inspired by finding a box of Stuff at home, and remembering what else that particular box had had in it and where it had been. It consists of translucent-white-plastic casts of the insides of rather a lot of cardboard boxes - ordinary, non-uniform, mostly used cardboard boxes - stacked up in large piles and glued together (quite likely for practical and health and safety reasons as much as for artistic ones).

The piles really do break up the vast space of the turbine hall and did an amazing job of getting people to walk in around them, in the little narrow alleys between them. The same sign with the photographic advice on it also said, "Please do not touch or climb on the piles", and to be fair, nobody did climb them, though I did pass two small children (nine-year-old girls, more or less) who were talking wistfully about being able to climb to the top, and I saw one woman reach out, put a hand on another pile, and lift one booted foot as if to climb.

I've mentioned before, I think, that I dislike not being allowed to touch artworks, especially sculptures (for instance, Alberto Giacometti's Annette IV or Umberto Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space - you don't get anything like the full effect from either of those, you really need to see them from lots of angles, but they're still good pictures of them). It's also been my observation that people will still do it, especially when they're up close and all they need to do is reach out a finger and trail it along, as with this one.

Since I now have this ability, due to the impulsively-generous [livejournal.com profile] nou, I shall put up a poll on the subject.

[Poll #662347]

Date: 2006-01-29 04:44 pm (UTC)
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kake
I don't know anything about art (despite having been 50% of the team that built this), and I'm not sure "I know what I like" is really valid either, since I don't have enough data on what the choices are. I like Klimt. I like Glenn Fabry. I like a lot of other comic/graphic novel art too, but I'm rubbish at remembering names. I like purple things; the baubles on my Christmas tree are not Art, but the colour choices are excellent and I can't stop examining them. Quentin Blake's illustrations of Roald Dahl's books, and Ronald Searle's illustrations of Geoffrey Willans' Molesworth books are not Art either, but I like looking at them too. I like looking close-up at the details of fabrics in portraits. I think I would probably like Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, if I was allowed to touch it. I like time-lapse films of plants growing.

Date: 2006-01-29 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
This is just my opinion, but I'd argue that the choices are "nearly everything". I also like Klimt and many graphic novel artists. Regarding the Christmas-tree baubles, I can't help thinking about contextualization - me and Marcel Duchamp (http://www.beatmuseum.org/duchamp/fountain.html) - and the way things change due to the gallery. I recall seeing vaguely similar things to Searle & Blake on gallery walls, though no names offhand.

Fabric is interesting, and it's always good to see an artist - like Klimt - who understands it and uses it. A lot of the Renaissance artists did too, but the combination of age and restoration means that most of the paintings are too darkened, obscured, or smoothed-out for it to be seen really properly.

Date: 2006-01-29 05:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raggedrags.livejournal.com
oOh, that looks interesting. Even better - I can walk to it in 10 minutes!

The exhibition in the Turbine Hall is about the only thing I ever visit the Tate Modern for now, as the other free exhibitions seem so rarely to change.

I love that book market under the bridge, but I've *never* bought anything from it despite having wandered around it countless times. I think I love the idea of it most really. It's quite unexpected.

Date: 2006-01-29 05:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
What I forgot to mention in the original post was that I wandered over and had lunch in Borough Market (nice sausages, a glass of fruit substance, and espresso) and then back for other things. I only really went in to visit that one piece, and then went upstairs to find a couple of old friends.

Date: 2006-01-29 06:01 pm (UTC)
kake: The word "kake" written in white fixed-font on a black background. (Default)
From: [personal profile] kake
Islington High Street sometimes has (or at least used to have) a chap with tables full of books, selling them off cheap. I think you're right, it's the unexpectedness of the thing that's cool.

Date: 2006-01-29 06:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mirrorshard.livejournal.com
With this particular one, (outside the NFT cafe, not Islington High Street) I think it's the combination of unexpectedness and tradition - like the other South Bank institution, the skateboarders. Who are usually endearingly not-very-good-at-it.

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