Tate Modern review (May 2016)
This is an old review Read my most recent review here
I promised myself that I would come to the Tate Modern with an open mind, but I know I'm going to laugh at the modern art. It's so bad, it's good. So you might want to take this review with a pinch of salt if you're an art lover.
I do actually quite like art, believe it or not, but this isn't art to me. It's more like a song by someone who can't sing. It's a load of pictures by people who can't paint. When students have no artistic talent their teacher tells them to snap a black and white photo instead, or film themselves blinking at their mirror in slow-mo. They end up piling some beer cans onto a shelf and splattering them with paint, and then titling it something like: Youth Crying Out In Anguish Against The Capitalist Hegemony. That's the Tate Modern for you -- it's full of pictures like that. It's the world's biggest sixth form college art show, dotted with an occasional big name piece by someone like Picasso.
So that's what I think.
It's no good me giving you a route through the building because it's colossal -- it used to be a power station. And it still looks like a power station, right down to the industrial sized chimney in the middle. The stomach of the building is where the turbines used to be, but now it's just a vast abandoned chasm. The room is so huge that the only thing they can fill it with is... nothing. And it's surprising how much nothing they can squeeze into it. But what else can they do with a space that big?
The first room I entered today had a couple of Piet Mondrian's on the wall -- who's name I actually recalled from school. He's the guy who had a love for misaligned lino. He was like a blind kitchen fitter. After that came a mashed-up Picasso face, a melted Dali face, and a quizzical my face.
I loved the next room. Let me describe it to you in detail so you can appreciate how dumb it is (I had totally abandoned my attempt to keep an open mind by this point -- two rooms in and I was already pondering on the emperor's new clothes): it was basically just a pitch black box with a couple of comfy seats inside, and a row of black and white TVs on the floor. And you were supposed to sit there on the seats and watch an endless loop of faces and crowds and clouds and cars on these muted TVs. That was it. That is what passes for art these days -- watching a black and white TV in the dark.
Another room piled up a load of old radios from the floor to the ceiling, starting with the walnut coloured cabinets of yesteryear to the tiny WiFi speakers of today. I have to admit that I found this room quite amusing, because they'd tuned them all to different frequencies, creating a nightmarish noise of static and crackles and unintelligible conversation. Amusing it might be, but it's hardly art.
Too many of the pieces just look desperate. There's too much filler. They had three Coke bottles inside a box. Another artist glued sone of her fake fingernails to a canvas and the Tate saw fit to hang it on a wall. There are TVs all over the place showing silent shots of... nonsense. One television had pictures of Mickey Mouse next to a Coke can crushed up somebody's arse. That's not art, is it? That's just an artist trying to shock. Another one went straight for the shock in his title: A F*cking Didactic Educational. This movie showed the Three Degrees singing When Will I See You Again over the top of shots of concrete in the desert.
I could go on and on and on and on and on, because they've got floors and floors of this stuff. How about these ones: four blackboards with chalk drawings on them? Or nine photos of a gas works? Ninety-five fire hoses? Two white triangles? Clay turds?
So just in case you haven't worked it out already... I'm not a fan of the Tate Modern. I would enjoy it a lot more if it actually had some art inside.
Events at Tate Modern…
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