Tate Modern Turns Twenty Despite London Lockdown




Tate Modern has turned twenty despite the lockdown, but not to worry you can still celebrate their anniversary online. The ‘score’ celebration day was to feature a dedicated programme of displays and performances across the museum – including the return of Louise Bourgeois’ iconic giant spider – as well as the opening of a special exhibition dedicated to the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

Our plans for May 2020 encapsulated the best of Tate Modern shining a spotlight on some of the newest artists to join our collection – Frances Morris, Director

Tate was also to highlight some of the artists Tate Modern has championed over the past twenty years: Kusama and Bourgeois, for example, not only represent our commitment to great artists with truly international careers, but they also embody art’s journey from the avant-gardes of the early 20th century to the immersive installations being created today.”

Lockdown Tate Photo: Oliver Malin

Lockdown Tate at Twenty Photo: Oliver Malin

Tate Modern welcomed nearly 100 million visitors since it was first officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 11 May 2000, and it is now the world’s most visited museum of modern and contemporary art. From its long-term commitment to research, ground-breaking approach to collection displays and exhibitions to its unique commissions in the Turbine Hall and live programme in the Tanks, Tate Modern has transformed the British public’s relationship with contemporary art in the 21st century.

To celebrate the anniversary, a year-long focused exhibition will showcase the work of one of the most celebrated international contemporary artists. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Rooms will be a rare chance to experience two of the artist’s immersive mirrored room installations juxtaposed with photos and footage of early performance works and studio happenings. It will feature Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the Brilliance of Life, one of Kusama’s largest installations to date, initially made for her 2012 retrospective at Tate Modern. This will be shown alongside Chandelier of Grief, a room that creates the illusion of a boundless universe of rotating chandeliers.

Tate Modern’s collection displays are well known for their bold pairings of artworks, exploring the connections between two artists from different times or places. To mark the 20th anniversary, visitors will soon find a new series of 20 pairings picked out across the museum to showcase the diverse range of ideas and stories in Tate’s collection. These will include Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider Maman, the very first work visitors encountered when Tate Modern opened in 2000, which will return to the Turbine Hall in May. This monumental bronze sculpture will be paired with an ephemeral and meditative performance by Lee Mingwei. Entitled Our Labyrinth, the performance centres on a dancer silently sweeping grains along a twisting path, echoing the themes of domesticity, fragility and memory in Bourgeois’ work.

Three other performance works from Tate’s collection will also be activated upon reopening reflecting Tate’s continued commitment to performance. Nedko Solakov’s A Life (Black & White) sees two workers painting the walls black and white in turn in an endless cycle, Allora & Calzadilla’s Balance of Power involves three yoga practitioners wearing military uniforms executing a sequence of yoga ‘warrior poses’, and Tunga’s Xifópagas Capilares entre Nós features a pair of twins connected by their interwoven hair.

Other highlights would have included an archive display telling the story of Tate Modern through films, images, objects and models, alongside newly-recorded oral histories from those who played a role in the museum’s development. In the Blavatnik Building, the conservation studio on level 4 will eventually be open for a behind-the-scenes ‘show and tell’ revealing how Tate cares for its collection, and Tate Exchange on level 5 will host a drop-in interactive performance by artist Tim Etchells. Free 10-minute talks from staff across Tate will take place throughout the gallery while a selection of short films from the past 20 years including artist interviews, studio visits and behind the scenes documentary will be screened in the Starr Cinema all day.

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