The Tanks Take the Tate

by: Veronique Hoebeke

July 22, 2012

The Tanks: Art in Action at the Tate

The Tate Modern: a world famous museum holding one of the largest collections of contemporary art in a refurbished power station. The museum known for its cutting edge in modern art has taken it one step further. The extremely large oil drums left over from the Tate’s power plant days have now been converted to an open space for art dubbed “The Tanks.”

The entrance to The Tanks is a downward slope that looks like you are being led into some industrial lot instead of an extension of a modern art museum. The Tate was able to redesign these oil drums into large open spaces which give a sleek and even futuristic background for the artists. The Tanks will display a different type of art than is seen upstairs in its galleries of paintings and sculptures. Works of photography, film, dance and interactive art will be showcased in the spacious underground metallic cocoons. These art works are not something motionless to be stared out for a few minutes then abandoned for the next piece in the gallery. Instead, these art installations allow the audience to experience art’s sounds and movements and in some cases invite the viewer to participate in the art itself. 

The Tanks: Art in Action at the Tate

The Tanks first season, running from July 18th to October 28th, will feature contemporary artists Sung Hwan Kim, Suzanne Lacy, film-maker Lis Rhodes and dancer/choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Kim uses film of his family life in an urban apartment in contrast with footage of his ancestoral home in Korea. The performance piece the Crystal Quilt By Lacy, featuring older women in a quilt-like shape voicing their experiences with growing older, will also be on display this season. Lis Rhodes, a robust film-maker and poltical activist uses her film “Light Music” to voice the lack of acknowledgement for female artists. De Keersmaeker does a similar thing with the dances she performs and choreographs. 

This live art serves as an equalizer of the inequality in attention given to female artists of past decades of art history. “Performance has been favoured by women artists because it side-steps the masculine heritage of painting and sculpture, and also allows for challenging explorations of female experience and the body” says Rachel Spence of the Financial Times. The lack of classic forms of art leaves the space free of reminders of the mostly-male-dominated history of art. This is one of the ways the Tate Modern is moving art into the future. They do not think of the art of today but of the art of tomorrow. The Tanks at the Tate Modern is prepared for the art that will surface in the future, art that is changing, moving and progressing. 

The Tanks: Art in Action at the Tate

The Tanks: Art in Action runs from 18 July – 28 October 2012

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