Thursday, October 13, 2005

A Load Of Old Boxes

Today I have been to the Tate Modern to see the new sculpture by Rachel Whiteread entitled "Embankment" which I've seen on the local news a few times recently. The process for constructing the sculpture seems to be thus: take an old cardboard box, fill with plaster, remove box when plaster set, cover in translucent polyethylene. Then repeat literally thousands of times. The result can be seen in the accompanying photo: lots of these white boxes piled up in various ways; some in nice neat piles, some in almost neat piles, some seemingly completely at random and often somewhat precariously, making you worry that if you tread too heavily around them, the whole thing just might come crashing down on you.

I'm not sure what it's all meant to represent, there was a notice on the wall and leaflets to take which gave all the usual arty-farty bollocks about this and that which I can never really be bothered to read properly or take in. But pretentious explanations aside, it was still visually stunning and fun to walk around. Not quite a maze, but there were lots of paths and short cuts and nooks and crannies to explore and walk through as you made your way through the exhibit, and then as with all exhibits in the Turbine Hall, you can go up the next floor and look down on it from a balcony. This really brings home just how much time, effort and patience must have gone into it. I often find with large pieces of art that rather than merely taking in the spectacle and/or trying to make some sense of it, I wonder more about the logistics of producing something that size, ie how it was planned, how long it took, how it was transported to the gallery and set up for public display...not to mention what will happen to it when its time at the gallery is up. Perhaps not quite the response that the artist was hoping for !


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