Monday, 8 October 2007

Louis Bourgeois and Doris Salcedo exhibitions at Tate Modern

Louis Bourgeois, French lady, obsessed with sex which is a pre-requisite for being an artist, so it's a good start. What struck me more than the overt sexuality of the sculptures and paintings that make up the show was the crowd it pulled in. We had press passes and missed the film crews but I did catch a glimpse of Phillip (I’m so soft spoken you have to strap a microphone to my larynx to hear my gasps) Glass, the culture correspondent for Channel 4 news. The assorted press seemed undead, well, that’s a bit unfair but I did think I’d accidentally stumbled on a pensioner’s day out. Everyone seemed bemused by our presence but we gave them all a mental ‘piss off and check your colostomy bags.’

Sex plays big parts in Bourgeois’ work but my favourite pieces were, possibly the least sexed up. I found ‘Spider’ a giant iron spider outside the Tate (those of you who aren’t smug enough to get press passes or simply want the cheap option, you can just go and stand outside the Tate. There is however a prototype version inside the exhibit that is more impressive. Spider looks like it just walked out of a Sci-fi B-movie which is probably why it resonated as strongly as it did for me, even in a high art environment I can’t help regressing into juvenile geekness.

‘Experiments in Nature’ was more ‘t3h s3x’ than Spider but apart from its remarkable, ugly beauty, it reminded me a lot of Michael Renouf’s, ‘Man’s best friend.’ I wouldn’t put a secret love of sculpture past Mr. Renouf, so maybe it was all an homage after all. ‘Experiments in Nature’ or Hell Hound as I dubbed it in mind, looks just that, some weird chimera, abomination. It could definitely pass for Cerberuses bastard offspring. The smooth marble finish makes you forget or at least suppress what it represents and it takes on a Lovecraftian attractiveness.

Doris Salcedo’s, Shibboleth was the second press packed event we wrangled our way into. Earthquake. That’s what first popped into my philistine, media saturated mind. Salcedo has cracked the floor of the massive Tate Modern Turbine Hall across its entire length. Taking the sight in from the first floor is impressive enough but it isn’t until you walk the length of the Tate, does the effort involved actually sink in. I was just starting to get my thoughts organised about the engineering, materials and how it was making my synthetic feeling centres react, when I was ambushed by a journalist from LBW radio or something like that, who wanted to know what was happening in my empty cranium. Three minutes and a stream of consciousness, (which is equivalent to me actually taking a shit out of my own mouth) later and she’d obviously clocked on that she was faced with a moron. The interview is on tonight or tomorrow on the LBW Radio afternoon news, apparently.

The excitement didn’t end once we’d left the bowls of the Tate. The trip home was delayed as the announcer informed us, ‘emergency engineering work is taking place’ which in actuality meant that three guys with a hammer were bashing away at the track right in front of a dumbstruck crowd. I’ve made my feelings on the Tube clear before but this visual metaphor sums it up: Three men, one hammer, bashing the rail. Then if that hadn’t blown my excitement box already we saw a washed up actor from Hollyoaks. Hollyoaks is a soap opera for teenagers in England that helps to pasteurise their brains in an attempt to stop them being the most drugged up, drunk and STD radioactive teenagers in all of Europe. It doesn’t work that well.

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