‘Absorbing light’

I recently visited Idris Khan’s Exhibition at the Victoria Miro Gallery, initially interested in the minimalist influence of his work (which felt related to my practise). I later found out when researching before my visit that his work explored the physiological influence of being detained on an individual.

Much of Khan’s work deals with metaphysical and aesthetic questions, using layering and repetition. He has employed the use of both sculpture and painting/ layered 2D work to explore how we recall mass, space and volume when placed in situations where our senses are limited/ fragmented.  I have been similarly interested in the concealment of imagery, focusing more on the obvious removal of information.

‘The Pain of Others’
2017
Idris Khan
‘The Pain of Others’
2017
Idris Khan

However, when moving around the exhibition space, it wasnt until closer inspection that I realised the inclusion of text within his large black wall painting work. The language of prisoners had be concealed to the extent that only singular words could be made out. I found that this build up of information concealing the very information included was an idea which I haven’t explored yet in my own practise. I think its conceptually very interesting to present a viewer with the information they need/ should know but the quantity is what holds them back from being able to digest it. I am exploring this through the shredding of numerous documents and images which will no longer be digestible on the scale their presented.

180 The Strand

“Nowadays everything happens at once and our souls are conveniently electronic (omniattentive)”– John Cage, 1966

EVERYTHING AT ONCE

The exhibition isn’t chronological or categorised by movement or influence but features 45 works which explore ‘experience, effect and events, invoking immediacy and immutability’- Alison Thorpe. I definitely experienced a sense of being immersed in all types of contemporary art whilst walking around the exhibition. I found that It was at points an overload of information which reflects the changes which social media have bought about, overloading us with information.

Entering into the exhibition were told to take off our shoes and enter a dark room where a a light a light display takes over the room with accompanied electronic sound. The black and white stripes which take over the floor resemble bar codes with sound transforming us into a digital world. Ryoji Ikeda focuses on sound and light using mathematical precision. ‘Test pattern’ is an ongoing work which uses data from texts, photos and movies and converts them into bar codes and binary patterns. In this space, people began to sit and get comfortable with the environment. They’re stays were extended over a period of time as they almost became hypnotised by the immersive experience. I was fascinated by the urge to record the work, most people in the room were taking photos or film for their own use.

Film created by Ruth Linnell

Ikeda’s work set the tone for the theme ‘everything at once’. Then traveling outside the to get to the first studio space, we were being transported into a wildly different environment which worked well in disorientating the viewer. In the first studio I was particularly drawn to the work of Richard deacon. His minimalist sculptural forms, by use of light and shape, have challenged my perception of what their construction consisted of. As I moved around the work I discovered its reality, which was disguised from certain angles, presenting itself in a very different way.

‘Vincent’ 2005, by Richard Deacon
Photograph of ‘Everything At Once’ Exhibition taken by Ruth Linnell
‘Turning a blind eye’ 1985, by Richard Deacon
Photograph of ‘Everything At Once’ Exhibition taken by Ruth Linnell

Similarly, ‘At the edge of the world’ by Anish Kapoor creates a sense of misunderstanding with his sculpture. The viewer experienced the audio form a large dome structure when standing inside its belly, however, when looking up- the surface appears flat- thereby confusing the viewer. This large scale distorts the air around it. ‘By combining them (the sculptures) with pigment and light – or the lack of it – he transforms the viewer’s perception of his work, creating ephemeral experience as much as actual objects.’ I find the power of illusion within sculpture very interesting and I want to explore this within the field of photography within my own practise.

‘At the edge of the world II’ 1998, by Anish Kapoor
Photograph of ‘Everything At Once’ Exhibition taken by Ruth Linnell

Ai Weiwei’s work consisted on a wall which tells the story of displacement, conflict and alienation which has been displayed along side blasted tree roots. The iconography of the wall paper was inspired by Greek and Egyptian imagery which documented early movement of people. I think that the scale with which this piece was displayed payed emphasis to the scale of the refugee crisis. The work becomes overwhelming when looking intimaty at individuals which are depicted and connecting with their story, then panning back to see a 60 meter stretch of wall which holds repeated stories.

‘Odyseey’ 2016 by Ai Weiwei
Photograph of ‘Everything At Once’ Exhibition taken by Ruth Linnell

Another significant piece of work for me was that of Lee Ufan (Please see ‘Playing with Situation’ blog post).

I found that the curation of the show massively played into its title. The viewer was not only overloaded with visual information form a variety of artists, but the movement around the exhibition brought you through a variety of different space. The slick opening was representational of a modern gallery space, but moving through we entered into darkened spaces where the light was ‘at the end of the tunnel’ so to speak. Much of the building seemed unfashioned and under construction which I personally felt added to the intended experience for the viewer.

Photograph of ‘Everything At Once’ Exhibition taken by Ruth Linnell

Please see: Playing with situation

Dali//Duchamp

“This is the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the artistic, philosophical and personal links between two fo the twentieth century’s greatest artists: Salvador Dalí and Marcel Duchamp”

The exhibition was structured into 4 sections: Identity, The body and the object, Experimenting with reality and playing games. Looking at the body, I found that I was particularly drawn to Duchamp’s ‘The King and Queen surrounded by swift nudes’ 1912, and was interested in the deconstruction of figures. I would be interested in replicating a technique which cuts in my photography (as I have been discussing destruction in my own practise). Similarly Dali’s ‘Cubist self portrait’ 1923 plays with fracturing his images to abstract shapes whilst keeping a string of representation.

‘the King and queen surrounded by swift nudes’, 1912 By Marcel Duchamp
‘Cubist Self-Portrait’ 1923 by Salvador Dalí

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duchamp’s readymade was secret for ages and his pieces were only seen by other artists in his studio. However, during the rise of surrealist movement “in 1930 the surrealist followed Duchamp radical reverent, using found objects in a kind of concrete poetry that produced provocative conjunction such as Dali’s lobster telephone as a surrealist object functioning symbolically’

‘Lobster Telephone’ 1936 by Salvador Dalí

“Surrealist objects are in no mans land between art and life. They confused the animate with inanimate”- RA

When in the room which was studying the erotic, I found the curation of the space to be very successfully linked. The room had been painted a dark purple, with gold mirrors around the space, capturing the light and self in a very luxurious way. The room had central cabinet which fetishises these objects collected and presented as art by Duchamp. I noticed people start to stare in a deepened way which they wouldn’t do if they had seen the object outside of a gallery setting. Its interesting to see the fascination with the work, now that the readymade has become an accepted form of art work, however, I started to question how many people understood its history. I  assumed most were just there to observe because they know its important superficially, maybe they felt a social pressure to appreciate the artwork. The mirrors significantly heighten the richness of the environment in which the art is viewed and people start to view the work as relics from a master in the art world.

Inside this room, there was one of the smallest photographs being completely overlooked by the many.  “Photograph of shadows cast by readymade” shows the shadows cast on wall from Duchamp’s readymade objects when hung in space. This adds projected a negative space onto a wall, fabricating a piece which might be more widely understood as art. We can understand form and something being ‘created’/processed, which for many, defines what art is.  Yet in this exhibition, the public are celebrating the object and ignoring the photograph. Is this representational that we now accept the readymade as art or are we merely following others in their understanding?

‘Shadows cast by Readymades’ by Marcel Duchamp
‘Fountain’ 1917 by Marcel Duchamp

Sarah Lea writes for the RA, commenting on the importance of Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ 1917 – “Thinking of Duchamp’s affinity with Dada, we can perhaps understand Fountain not simply as a joke on the audience, but as the provocation of a genuine and important question: what is art? Does the act of simply placing something in a gallery make it art?”

Marcel Duchamp’s ‘the bride stripped bare by her bachelors’ 1915 is a large glass panel which records a ‘metaphorical account of the encounter between bride and her bachelors’. The work is made of oil, lead, dust and varnish on glass in a metal frame. Much of the work was left unfinished when Duchamp went to New York. Duchamp didn’t want to use canvas and therefore limited himself to working on large glass for 8 years. Both Dali and Duchamp felt modern art had become detached from its earlier functions of being religious, philosophical and moral. Therefore they started to compensated by creating personal iconographies. His work is ‘enigmatic’- hard to explain/ interpret, however, I am fascinated by the interruption of paint on the surface of the glass (what should be a transparent window to whatever surrounds it). The scale of the piece is similar to an altarpiece with the work being defined as neither painting or sculpture – its almost a monument.

‘Bride stripped bare by her bachelors’ by Marcel Duchamp

The use of broken glass is something which is interesting to be in my practise. Glass is by its nature a medium which is meant to simply continue a reality- it shouldn’t fracture or alter whats behind it. So much of photography is held behind glass, I think it is an interesting medium to play with, especially as I am considering how to distress my own images. I could consider smashing glass and re-glueing it back together to see how this alters the reading of a photograph which is underneath its surface.

‘Something Resembling Truth’

Jasper Johns recently exhibited at the RA. He looks at targets, states and flags and aims to challenge the viewer by making the familiar unfamiliar. He uses repeated and reformed shapes and symbols which are disguised to force the viewer to look more closely at things the mind already knows.

I was particularly interested in Johns earlier work and personally think he was most innovative when he retracted his subject matter to just dealing with numbers or the American flag, creating different variations. Johns interest in Magritte, Cornell and Duchamp led to inform his early work and Johns started to explore the idea of PAINTING AS SCULPTURE. In Johns ‘White Flag’ I was interested in how he has focused on the remnant being all thats left. We become forced to deconstruct the flag and view it not as a patriarchal symbol but as a series of shapes and lines. I think that the limited tones and monochromatic palette of this piece is particularly successful at achieving this.

‘White Flag’ by Jasper Johns

“Johns’ early flat, target, number and letter works, some of which appeared in this first exhibition, established a new vocabulary in painting. His appropriation of objects and symbols – ingrained in consciousness since childhood- sought to make the family unfamiliar. One of the ways he achieved this was through the complexity of textures that he created on the painted surface.” – Edith Devaney (RA Guild for Friends).

‘Numbers’ 2007-8 by Jasper Johns
‘0 through 9’ by Jasper Johns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johns became interested in exploring language by appropriating familiar words out of context into his work. Their inclusion started a discussion into mis-interpretation. ‘False start’ 1959 Johns uses language to jiggling the complexity of seeing and thinking, naming and perceiving. He places ‘yellow, blue,red’ over blocks of alternating colour so as we view the work we challenge our perception of colour. This seemingly is a theme which runs through his work in his sculptures ‘Painting Bronze’ (1960). These are two hyperrealistic reproductions of domestic items which force the viewer to question what is true or false.  Only the knowledge that it is a reproduction lets us know, otherwise we might assume this was a readymade.

‘False start’ 1959 by Jasper Johns

Johns plays with the balance between art and functionality. When looking at maps he make a point to retain their ability to perform as global representations. In ‘Two maps’ 1989 Johns uses a carborundum wash to conceal the image, forcing the viewer to look with intensity. Similarly in ‘Map’ 1962-63 we struggle to view the border of countries because of its stylistic application of paint however the piece remains both a painting and an object that preserves its fictional value although boundaries blurred it still retains each borders unique shape.

‘Two maps’ 1989 by Jasper Johns

I was particularly drawn to John’s ‘Regret series’ which is based on a photograph taken by John Deakin of 2 mirrored tracings of Freud on his bed with irregular edges and damaged surfaces. Japser Johns has taken this photographic image and reproduced it in huge variation, forcing the viewer to read something different in the work from each piece. I found that the curation of this work, using a ceiling hight wall to mount this series of work was very wise in dramatising how manipulation can completely alter your perception of an image.  This is something I would be interesting in exploring in my own work by looking at printing an image and destroying or manipulating it in a variety of ways, presenting them all to the viewer to be digested simultaneously.

‘Regret series’ (2013-14) by Jasper Johns

Bibliography:

 

The Seen and The Unseen

As I have been looking at discarded objects in my own practise, I wanted to consider how we value objects. A recent exhibition at the Tate Modern Exchange made me question if we only associate value with objects when we know how they’ve been made? Artist Clare Twomey made the Tate Exchange into a factory for a period of a week, were member of the public could come and complete shifts, being a part in the process of making a clay tea pot, jug or flower.

Images of Tate Exchange taken by Ruth Linnell

“The factory I have built for Tate Exchange is not a real factory, it is not a real place of work, it is a place of simulation with the intent to draw us into a conversation about how we connect to our everyday ideas of labour, value and exchange.”- Towemy

During the second week of the exhibition (which was when I saw the work), this production line became a place for people to think about raw materials and the different systems of value we apply to material culture. The idea was that you leave your thoughts – written on a card – in place of a ceramic object made in the factory the previous week.

When collecting my own teapot, I started to read other peoples thoughts on value and material culture by recording their responses to the question cards. I became fascinated with the rejected pottery which had its own shelving unit, clearly not meant to be looked at by the public. I started to find these objects held more of a story and in my eyes have more value as they were each unique. all the items we had seen produced on the factory floor had been made with casts, making them all similar. Therefore, there was an excitement to the faults which had occurred and these pieces became like a trace of human production (especially as the ‘workers’ had untrained members of the public).

Broken Vessels
Photograph of Tate Exchange taken by Ruth Linnell
Broken Vessels
Photograph of Tate Exchange taken by Ruth Linnell

In Twomey’s Artist statement she says: “In the redundant FACTORY the workers have gone but their voice and breath remain. The machines, the materials, the benches become small monuments. The space is filled with the evidence of the human, but the wholeness of the factory is fractured, a space now exists where the human is craved, the purpose of the factory has become a proposition of both loss and potential. The tasks of labour are now listening, reflecting, observing. The visitor is invited to and consider their own relationship to and experience of production.”  I believe that this evidence of human presence is most clearly felt when looking at the discarded, cast away products of the production line.

Please see: A Wooden Triangle & Discarded Objects

Matisse @ RA

Notes on Matisse at the Royal Academy:

‘A composition of objects that do not touch- but nonetheless participate in the same intimacy” – Matisse

In one room of the exhibition, ‘Object is an Actor’, Matisse uses the same object but completely changes how we read it by contextualising in new way and describing its form in new lines/ techniques etc oil painting vs black minimalists line (‘soup tureen and handle of a chocolate pot’ 1900 ink on paper vs ‘still life with a chocolate pot’ 1900 oil on canvas).

‘Still life with a choloate pot’
1900
by Matisse
(oil on canvas)
‘soup tureen and handle of a chocolate pot’
1900
by Matisse
(ink on paper)

Matisse looked at ethnographic journals and explored Africans sculpture as alternative to western art but this form of art is just to be speculated, not explored anthropologically. Most people in room at RA are white middle class observing for aesthetic reasons. The gallery said matisse learnt about African abstraction and used in own work therefore we can conclude he was only drawing upon it from a visual aesthetic rather than deeper cultural understanding of why they express art in this stylistic way? Surely Matisse is separating ‘the other’, in anthropological terms, to cause distance so his work can be visually enjoyed.

“African masks made a particularly strong impact on his hortatory, both stylistically and conceptually. As he strove to convey the personal impact of his subject, the abstract simplification and forceful geometric designs of African art helped Matisse to go beyond straightforward resemblance towards portraits that, as he explained, suggest the deep gravity that persists in evert human being”– RA Guild for Friends

Matisse uses sculpture to evoke feelings of ‘likeness’ when depicting people. Masks have stylistically influenced his own practise. The gallery SAYS the masks also conceptually influenced him but I would challenge how much he researched into reason why African artists used more simplified forms, and therefore what concepts his work were actually bedded into.

‘Large face (mask)’
1952
by Matisse
‘Large Mask’
1948
by Matisse

‘The briefest possible indication of the character of a thing. A Sign’- Matisse has only preserved a sign which he says suffices when looking at form. Could I do the same in my work using a simplified window as a symbol? I think that looking into the power of symbols is something which could influence my work and discussing artist such as Richard Wentworth’s photography of everyday symbols on the streets. How are these socially charged?

Please see: Artist and Anthropologist

Peter Liversidge @ CGP London

Liversidge investigates performance as sculpture, discussing how the ‘work’ only comes to life when engaging which an audiences. He has used a program of music, comedy and professional ‘acts’ to be a part of his work as he is interested in how the delivery of their work actins in relation to social, cultural and locational contexts. . Liversidge made a point to exhibition his  proposals to CGP London in conjunction with his work, re-contexualising much of his pervious work with a site specific approach.

Liversidge’s work ‘A sculpture’ is a 25min long performance of standup comedy performed by Phill Jupitus. The jokes were written by patients and NHS staff and the Royal London Hospital for a pervious commission. There is a humorous element to the work, but also around the location.  By entering a darkened space with bean bags on the floor, as your vision is nearly completely inpaired you become very aware that you could sit on someone in an attempt to find a bean bag. My friend and I started a conversation, then realised we should probably check if others are in the enclosed space with us. This curation was massively successful in reflecting the humorous interaction of the stand up comedy with its setting. Despite the work seemingly commenting on if jokes can be funny when told to no-one, we both found the awkward absence of an audible audience in the video very amusing.

Liversidge has a beautiful asethetic quality to small photographic polaroids, their scale drew people into look closely, which is something for me to consider. This changed his work to a more intimate atmosphere but I felt the curation of the room prevented the full appreciation of these photographic works. They were dominated by reflections of his large LED sculptures therefore were scanned over/lost in space. People were engrossed by photographing his light work to possibly post on social media because of its aesthetic appeal, and ignored the smaller work. Maybe it should have been isolated?

 

One of CGP’s exhibition spaces is a derelict cathedral in which Liversidge exhibited ‘&’ 2011. This illuminated LED piece was positioned at the end of the long dark space, standing at the alter almost as a shrine. Is it probing a questioning? Maybe rather that purely exhibiting a & sign,  ‘& what?’ might have been more appropriate as we fail to fully understand the works significance because of its isolation and removed context.  This one singular sculpture seems to hold such importance/ weight?

Interestingly, Liversidge has played with the power of signs within society and as a consequence my friend kept seeing the symbol for the rest of the day. The exhibition was following him around…

‘&’ 2011
Peter Liversidge
Photograph of CGP Exhibition taken by Ruth Linnell
Image of ‘&’ symbol following around my friend.
Photograph taken by Ruth Linnell

Images of the Abandoned Cathedral Exhibition space at CGP with ‘&’ work. 

Photography into Sculpture

‘Photography into sculpture’
MOMA Exhibition
1970

I discovered an Exhibition which was held at MOMA in New York, April 8th- July 5th 1970.  The Aim of the exhibition was to discuss the continuity between photography and sculpture. The exhibition is described as a ‘comprehensive survey of photographically formed images used in a sculptural or fully dimensional manner’. This give me insight that the work being displayed could merely be presenting a series of work where the display of a photographical piece is 3D and therefore this doesn’t directly challenge my question of weather the definition of sculpture actually matters when categorising work.

Google describes a sculpture as:

sculpture –noun –the art of making two- or three-dimensional representative or abstract forms, especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster.

“the boundary between painting and sculpture is displaced”

– verb –make or represent (a form) by carving, casting, or other shaping techniques.

“the choir stalls were each carefully sculptured”

For the 1970’s, this exhibition was still discussing a very important issue in the art world. There was many restrictions to what art could be and what was widely recognised as being FINE ART. There was a struggle to connect with photography being anything other that documentary. Photojournalism and other representational forms of photography were common but acceptance of an artist using photography to communicate and idea or vision with intent was low. During the 1960’s Dr S D Jouhar formed the Photographic Fine Art Association yet stated:

At the moment photography is not generally recognized as anything more than a craft. In the USA photography has been openly accepted as Fine Art in certain official quarters. It is shown in galleries and exhibitions as an Art. There is not corresponding recognition in this country. The London Salon shows pictorial photography, but it is not generally understood as an art. Whether a work shows aesthetic qualities or not it is designated ‘Pictorial Photography’ which is a very ambiguous term. The photographer himself must have confidence in his work and in its dignity and aesthetic value, to force recognition as an Art rather than a Craft”

Therefore we can understand the setting of MOMA’s ‘Photography into sculpture’ was very controversial. Peter C. Bunnell, who directed the exhibition and curated the show, makes many points in his description of the exhibition. He says that ‘photography into sculpture embraces concerns behond those of the traditional print, or what may be termed ‘flat’ work and in so doing seeks to engender a heightened realization that art in photography has to do with interpretation and craftsmanship rather than mere record making’. This has touched on many of the issues surrounding popular opinion, In his opening lines, Bunnell is trying to give eyes for an appreciation of the medium as an art form. He also talks about how the ‘imaginary qualities of the photograph, particularly spatial complexity, have been transformed into actually space and dimension, thereby shifting photography into sculpture’. This concept interests me, where the artist here have physically manipulated their photographs to be printed upon different surfaces/materials, my own practise has started to explore how the photograph in its purist printed sense can become a sculpture.

  

I’m interested by the theoretical parallels between minimalism conceiving space and photography being sculptural. Bunnell touches on a movement from internal meaning an iconography to a visual duality in which materials become content and are used to conceive volume/space. A key concept for minimalism was that the work gave way to a consideration of the viewer’s body in relational to the space. The Context for this exhibition surrounded the rise of the minimalist movement, therefore maybe some influence of their concepts had been drawn upon.

I am particularly interested in the work of Jack Dale’s which is described to be a construction of negative and positive images on glass. This is a medium I am interested in exploring so therefore think it would be beneficial to look into his work.

‘Cubed Woman 3’ by Jack Dale

one two three swing!

Superflex
Hyundai Commision
2017
Photograph of the Turbine Hall taken by Ruth Linnell

SUPERFLEX in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern.

The Turbine hall was completely encompassed by a sea of swings – a childlike fantasy – enabling grown adults to return to their playful youth all in the name of Art. I have found that the commission blurred the lines between Gallery and everyday public space, providing a location to relax, switch off and be freed from the fast pace of the city.

Superflex asks if we all swing at the same times, can we change the way the earth spins?…. Superflex think of this as a space to contemplate the forces at work in our everyday lives. They imagine people might want to gather here to think about whether it is the weight of gravity of the economy that pulls us down’– Tate Modern

Although the exhibition was asking the public to contemplate the forces which are at play in our every day lives, I felt that this became a more subconscious consequence of observing a hypnotic sphere dangle from the ceiling rather than the goal of the excersize itself. The curation of the space, using soft carpets and placing the ball on a sloping floor, encouraged people to spend time in the space. Many were lying down in the space and where they usually might be concerned with taking a photo or film and quickly moving on, they relaxed into an extended stay. I felt that this encouragement for a lengthy interaction with the work is what brought into question the forces of life and deeper reflections into their own purpose/ situation. The work formed as an escape from their monotonous régimes.

Superflex
Hyundai Commision
2017
Photograph of the Turbine Hall taken by Ruth Linnell

The Commission asks us to answer a series of questions:

  • Feel free to lie down  on the carpet below the pendulum. Watch, rest and reflect – will you stay or go?
  • Imagine the swing as a human -powered pendulum. How can we empower each other through movement?
  • SUPERFLEXX began with three artists who now collaborate globally. How does a movement of three became a movement of many?
  • Follow the orange swing line as it weaves out of the Turbine Hall. Does the line make any surprising connections?
  • The swings are designed and produced to be used all over the world. In what way does economic productions tie the world together?
  • The Turbine Hall is a unique place. How does it invite us to imagine and engage in public spaces?
  • Meet new people as you move through the gallery and outside. How does chance meetings turn into meaningful connections?

Interestingly most people who were participating with the work didn’t even read the jargon written by the Tate. I found this interesting because the interest of the work became less about concept and more about the enjoyment of interaction. Many didn’t need to be told how to interact with the work (as they might have done if viewing a piece of minimalistic painting). It was instinctual.

The relationships which formed around the space were also incredibly insightful. People wanted to que around swings to have their turn to participate with the art. It isn’t that they hadn’t experience what it was like to sit on a swing before, but there was a new excitement surrounding the environment and curation of the space. I found create enjoyment in observing the expression of adults waiting for children to get off the swings, clearly hoping they would finish their turn soon! Likewise I noticed the guilt of adults as they sat on the swings whilst children were eagerly waiting their turn- these  sessions were significantly shorter. There was almost a frustration that somehow the responsibilities of being an adult were still in play. They almost seemed inescapable.

‘Wetin You Go Do?’

I recently visited Otobong Nkanga’s piece ‘Wetin You Go Do?’ in the Tanks at Tate Modern. The piece consisted of a number of concrete balls which were placed carefully in clusters around the tanks and had large heavy ropes connecting them all. The work had 3 speaker embedded in 3 spheres which discussed the difficulties of life along side more abstracted streams of consciousness.

‘Wetin You Go Do?’
Otobong Nkanga
Photograph of Tate Tank Exhibition by Ruth Linnell
‘Wetin You Go Do?’ Otobong Nkanga Photograph of Tate Tank Exhibition by Ruth Linnell

I found walking around the work my eyes were constantly traveling between different clusters of spheres. The curation of the piece took full advantage of the space and integrated itself within the setting as if the concrete were a part of the location. The work really reminded me of boys which are found in the ocean, with the whole location having a rather aquatic feel. Being contained within a space which echos with a tinny sound and surrounded by ropes, I viewed the piece as a life line. The boys were collections of objects which a safe.

I was interested by why Nkanga had chosen simple spheres to be representational of people. He clustered the spheres in social groups- reflecting how people network within society. Whilst this work had a specific meaning behind it and I could see that the spheres could be representational of a life, I read the work as a plea for a more proactive attempt to rescue refugees lives. Perhaps this was because of my practise being based around this subject or that the audio wasn’t playing at the precise time I viewed the work. If I had experienced the vocal contribution to the work I might have found it harder to draw the conclusions I did.

‘Wetin You Go Do?’ Otobong Nkanga Photograph of Tate Tank Exhibition by Ruth Linnell

It was interesting to obverse how visitors mannered around the space. Many leaned towards the spheres in an attempt to hear the audio which had been mentioned in the Tate’s description of the work, whilst others circulated the whole room. I think that a new dimension would have been brought to the piece if the public were encouraged to walk in amongst the instillation. This might have imparted a sense of being interconnected in self, following physically the network of ropes which reflect our social patterns.