Another cracking ‘must-see’ exhibition, ‘In Real Life’ over at the TATE Modern by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. You may remember my post from December 2018, when Eliasson installed 24 blocks of melting Arctic ice in the forecourt of the TATE, highlighting the urgency of climate change.
One year on and we’re all experiencing the ravages of climate change, from unheard of summer temperatures in the UK to the devastating bush fires and record-breaking droughts of Australia – just look at Sydney burning right now!!! And yet we still have these climate-change denying idiots in charge. When will we ever learn!
‘In Real Life’ once again challenges us to think about the extreme impact we’re having on the planet, bringing together nearly 40 works some of which reference different climactic conditions as immersive installations, such as ‘Beauty’ a stunning indoor rainbow created by shimmering light seen through gently falling water (inspired by the changing landscapes of Iceland), and in another completely pitch black room, ‘Big Bang Fountain’, brilliantly illuminated water appearing in frenetic split second bursts, as if at the very centre of the universe.
One of the most personally challenging installations is called ‘Your Blind Passenger’, a 39-metre long tunnel filled with thick yellow-coloured fog, so thick you can’t see beyond your own outstretched arm. Being immersed so completely in this peasouper was extremely disorientating as we gingerly stepped forward, completely blind to everything and everyone. It was actually a relief to finally find the door (where’s the bloody handle!?) and to stumble back into reality. I can’t help but think of smoke-filled Sydney with this installation – all that was missing was the heat, and of course the choking smoke, otherwise, it was unfortunately strangely reminiscent!
Back out in the immense Turbine Hall of the TATE is an imposing 13-metre tall pile of tinkling fountain called ‘Fons Americanus – THE DAUGHTERS OF WATERS – An Allegorical Wonder’, a comical pastiche of the wedding-cake memorial in front of Buckingham Palace and a rebuke to the evils of empire. A panel on the side wall explains in part…
“Behold The Sworling Drama of the Merciless Seas, Routes and Rivers, upon which our dark fortunes were traded and whose frothy shores lay prostrate Captain, Slave and Starfish, alike….Gasp Plaintively, Sigh Mournfully, Gaze Knowingly, And REGARD the Immaterial Void of the Abyss etc. etc.” – Created by ‘that Celebrated Negress of the New World, Madame Kara E. Walker, NYT.”
‘NYT’ stands for ‘Not Yet Titled’, as in not yet a CBE or an OBE…