July 10, 2016

Summer Musing: Drawers for Art

Last week I visited the new wing of the Tate in London. The display shows diversity, both geographically and gender-wise. This is something a museum like Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin can only dream of (last year, after Friedrich Christian Flick gave about 60 art works of white male artists to the collection, things got even worse). But I was also a bit annoyed by the curating at the Tate. As always, the Tate shows its collection by topics, as if without categorizing thematically nobody would be able to make sense of the art. The topics are so unambiguous and random that you can put the art work easily into a drawer. That bores me also visually. I started with “Living Cities” on the fourth floor which showed an art work that was literally a city map on the floor. I blame it to the topical curating that the art looked so one-dimensional. But it’s rare that an art work can defy and survive a categorization like that. A good example is Dieter Roth’s huge garden sculpture in Hamburger Bahnhof. Its contract says that only family members (who happen to live in Iceland) can install and deinstall the work, which tends to take a few weeks. That’s why the Dieter Roth sculpture stayed on for years, until this summer, spreading out its trash in the middle of the Rieckhallen, disobeying every topic that was going on around it. It was such a wonderful sight in the Wall Works exhibition: to be inside of the institution and to say, fuck it! Anyway, I do understand where the Tate’s curating is coming from: it has to be visibly educational in order to argue its value in a society that thinks: “The sheer waste of the European Union spending taxpayer’s money. They’ve just spent 13 million on art of taxpayers’ money. That says it all, doesn’t it?”

The Louis Bourgeois Room was awesome.
Such a pity they put those nostalgic hay pictures
behind these awesome sculptures of Ana Lupas.

City view from the new wing at the Tate

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