Wednesday, October 31, 2007

People keep falling in the crack

The weekend Globe and Mail does this thing where they present some well known personage with a photograph and then ask them to respond to it and give it a caption. This week it was former Mexican President Vicente Fox who was presented with this photo

His initial response was: "Well, this photo gives the message that people connect even over borders. Love and companionship overcome any problem, even if it's a difficult border or difficult relations like we have between Mexico and the United States. My caption would be Love Crosses Borders." (which, as an aside, is itself an interesting example of how little actual meaning a photograph accrues within itself)

The picture is actually of the latest installation at the Tate Modern and is a piece by artists Doris Salcedoi called "Shibboleth" referring to the biblical test and speaks to the relationship between culture and race and monumentalism and architecture.

The fissure has been directly incised in the long concrete ramp by which you enter the dramatic turbine hall of the Tate and - apparently people are now falling into it. According to the Guardian:

"...The work - a long, sometimes foot-wide fissure that runs the entire length of the hall - was unveiled at a private view on Monday night, when someone fell into what is becoming known as "Doris's crack"...

"We saw the first poor victim, a young woman who went into it with both feet up to just below her knees. She had to be dragged out by her friends," said one onlooker.

"Unbelievably, as we watched to see whether she was OK, an older woman deliberately stepped on it (she later told us, amazingly, that she thought the crack was painted on the floor) lurched forward and landed on the ground. She had a sore wrist to show for it."

The Tate said: "I can confirm someone lost her footing on Monday evening. We've a lot of experience in handling complex installations. People are being told verbally about it and handed leaflets, there is plenty of signage and many invigilators. We have no plans to put up a barrier."

Which I think is a good thing - art shouldn't really be safe - not necessarily even physically safe. I think it's a wonderful piece.


jannx said...

Heh..your quote above from Mencken could apply to most English speaking nations. I can't comment for other cultures though they might be eligible too!

"Can't underestimate the... (add word or phrase as the situation suits)

Here I'm thinking of "inability to listen to warnings"

I was in Yellowstone, upon entering and paying a fee you are given a large 8x11 sheet of bright yellow paper with a diagram of someone being tossed into the air by a huge horned bison. The warning then noted "do not get out of your car to pose for photos in the bison herds" .. you know what comes next I'm sure, and it wasn't one or two idiots.. 20 at a minimum!

Colin [] said...

I think it's a wonderful piece.

Care to elaborate?

And would it be more wonderful, or less, with a barrier?

Davin Risk said...

I think it would be drastically less wonderful -- or at least radically different in effect -- were it outlined by caution tape or velvet ropes.

Public safety is real concern and while that's not the focus of the work it does relate to those things we are protected from or are encouraged to ignore socially and emotionally.

mike said...

Looks like building subsidence. Anyone falling in could and should sue the construction firm. This is pure bullshit. Put it on the wall where no one can fall in.

Unknown said...

Hi, we've been reading and enjoying your blog for a while now and really appreciate being introduced to lots of new artists.

We've just, a few minutes ago, gone live on a blog of our own in which we plan to explore photography and all things visual. I thought you might be interested in our inaugural post about a visit to the Tate to see Shibboleth.


Unknown said...

Ooops, that didn't work so well!

Joe Reifer said...

You don't think it would look better with some orange cones and a few "watch your step" signs?