By the time you get round to reading this – I’m writing on the evening after the press preview – Tate Modern will have launched its latest enterprise – A BMW Tate Live Exhibition entitled Ten Days, Six Nights. It here’s now. It won’t be here long. In other words, blink and you’ll miss it.
Though this is certainly not the brainchild of the incoming director of all the Tates, Maria Balshaw, it does offer some hints concerning the directions the now huge and unwieldy cluster of Tate enterprises, both here in London and at its various outside locations and partnerships, may be likely to take in the immediate future.
Didn’t qualify as being cuddly enough for full participation
I read somewhere today in the financial press that the fashion industry is suffering because people’s cupboards are full, and they’re putting less money into buying new clobber and more into buying what are politely called ‘experiences’. It seems likely that Tate also wants to follow a similar direction, even though you can’t, in fact, take the stuff it has off its walls and haul it away to clutter up your limited living space. Art, as it generally defined, is starting to be regarded, by those in charge of the institution, as being maybe a little too static and impersonal for at least part of the public they would like to attract. Tate Modern has done performances before. Now a tentative foot is being shoved into the water. Not just a couple of tootsies. Maybe up to the ankle.
At the Press View, things certainly weren’t going full steam ahead, but there was enough in view to give a little bit of an idea. Most of it was confined to the bottom floor of the new building, a space called the Tanks that is going to be dedicated regularly to events of this kind. Performers twining themselves languorously round things dangling from the ceiling. A pair of giant laser eyes, floating in a vast, cavernous space. A space set up with sofas and chairs, and lavishly furnished with pot plants, ready for some kind of avant-garde love-in. We hacks, there to poke around at a morning preview, clearly didn’t qualify as being cuddly enough for full participation.
The most impressive contribution was not in the Tanks, but in an open-air space that Tate calls the South Terrace. ‘For the BMW Tate Live Exhibition Ten Days Six Nights,’ so an announcement tells one, ‘Fujika Nayakaya transforms the South Terrace into an immersive fog sculpture, animated by a sound- and light-scape by Ryuchi Sakamoto and Dum Type’s Shiro Takatani, and featuring two performances by dancer and choreographer Min Tanaka.’
Professional performers weren’t in evidence when I visited, nor was there much evidence of a soundtrack, but the wreaths of fog were rolling around in a way that reminded me vividly of London fogs in the immediate post-war years, the blessing being that they weren’t as loaded with particles of soot and didn’t smell as nasty. One’s inclination was to cry ‘Yes, come home Sherlock Holmes – all is forgiven!’ There was no need for performers. People stepped into the fog. And, willy-nilly, performed their own play.
If you feel like doing a bit of acting out, go and try it. Everyman his own artwork. Even this elderly critic.
BMW TATE LIVE EXHIBITION: TEN DAYS SIX NIGHTS 24 March – 2 April 2017 In partnership with BMW Open daily 10.00 – 18.00 and until 22.00 on Friday and Saturday