Can the enduring presence of such monuments among us still have the power to reinforce deep-rooted prejudices, by the very fact that they have simply not gone away?
Activist art collective Liberate Tate completed a 25-hour unsanctioned performance inside Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall on Sunday, urging the institution to drop its sponsorship deal with BP, one of the world’s largest oil companies.
Ossian Ward has a feature in Art in America this month about the dismaying trend of bigness in the contemporary art world. The piece is an exploration of a problem that’s only been growing (no pun intended): art as a series of bigger and better spectacles, upstaged only by the vast and cavernous spaces in which it’s shown. Though the article is quite smart and thorough, it left me a little unsatisfied: I think Ward stops short of really digging into what’s at stake here. What exactly is the problem with art as entertainment, anyway? It may seem like an obvious question, but given its centrality to this discussion, it’s one worth asking.
The Tate Modern just announced its selection for the 2012 Turbine Hall commission, and the winner is none other than your favorite relational aesthetics artist and mine, Mr. Tino Sehgal. But with Sehgal’s outlawing of any photo documentation of his works, will we actually get to see the piece?
Ai Weiwei, internationally famed artist and chief provocateur of the Chinese art world, opened his London Turbine Hall installation today, the eleventh, and first for an Asian artist, in the Tate’s Unilever series of exhibitions.
The installation forms a gesture both classic for the artist and yet totally unexpected: a carpet of sunflower seeds now covers over 1,000 of the Turbine Hall’s 3,400 square meters of floorspace, in total over 150 tons. Photos from afar show an unmeasurable expanse of gray, a rectangular infinity that calls to mind Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s candy fields: part minimalist, part maximalist. The seed carpet is visually stunning, but beyond its striking appearance, the installation has a deep political, historical and social background.