Tuesday, November 06, 2007

More on the Tate crack...

One of Muse-ings regular visitors just started her own blog - Inversion Layer, and her first major post is on Doris Salcedo's piece at the Tate Modern - Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth: a presence not an absence.

Elizabeth's writes of her experience actually visiting the Tate and encountering the work first hand. It's quite illuminating and should, I think, answer any of the questions about why this is good art*.

"And there you have it: right away, even before people have reached the foot of the entrance ramp rules about how to behave in an art gallery are being broken down. People are looking at each other almost as much as they’re looking at the crack and the locus of the art has shifted - at least for me - from the individual response to the crack to the individual response to a whole gallery full of people responding to the crack. It’s an experience that draws people together...

The imperfection that has been introduced makes people look down and both the behaviour of those I observed and my own responses suggest that it also demands a physical response, exploring it with the body as much as the mind. Almost everyone seemed to put a hand or a foot into the crack, to stand in or astride it as though this were an atavistic response like picking at a scab. It also seems to make people behave in a less inhibited manner suggesting that the imperfection makes the experience of art less intimidating, despite The Guardian’s attempts to spin it as
endangering art lovers."

In addition, I think it's pretty clear why putting up barriers would be just plain dumb... (among other things, anyone who is stupid enough to fall into it is - well - pretty stupid. And suing someone in the UK still pretty much means you might get your costs covered if you are lucky and a few thousand Pounds or so on top of that - not some ridiculous lottery windfall - or even just the judge telling you that you should have been looking where you were going and to stop wasting his time...). The nanny state seems to have been kept out of the Tate on this one so far.

(*good art isn't necessarily or even about something well crafted and beautiful, or about nature or about making the viewer feel good or or about "doing art" or about "the journey" or whatever. Among other things, it's often about making us feel uncomfortable, about seeing and thinking and experience things we haven't noticed or considered. It's about revelation and reality and, as Simon Schama puts it: "Great art has dreadful manners. The hushed reverence of the gallery can fool you into believing masterpieces are polite things, visions that soothe, charm and beguile, but actually they are thugs. Merciless and wily, the greatest paintings grab you in a headlock, rough up your composure and then proceed in short order to re-arrange your sense of reality...")

(Photos by Elizabeth - oops - Paul, Inversion Layer)


Elizabeth said...

Hey, thanks for the mention!

Just so he doesn't feel left out, I should tell you that the photos are by Paul, the other half of Inversion Layer.

Colin [auspiciousdragon.net] said...

Not bad as an elaboration. There is an interesting secondary point here that press evaluations are often done out of context. I've even read a crit of a current London exhibition where the writer admits that he didn't go because he knew what it would be like.

I'm not sure that your * definition of good art is complete or consistent. Even though Schama says what he says in ever such a suave way, it isn't necessarily that either.