List 066: How I kept myself sane at the Tate Modern

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After having spent nearly two hours being mesmerized by the insanely brilliant work of Yayoi Kusama and having spent another hour watching a film on Damien Hirst and his equally insane creative process, my brain was all modern art-ed out. But in a valiant attempt to make the most out of the hour and a half it took me to get from Oxford to Southwark, I persisted on to the Form and Structure gallery on the 5th floor. I went around and visited my old friends from art history class—Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Bridget Riley, László Moholy-Nagy—but after having said my hellos, I found myself in a not-so-friendly conversation with the other pieces in the gallery:

“Seriously, do you think you can pass off a bunch of cheap white bathroom tiles as an ‘atmospheric veil which portrays morning as a soft, fresh dawn’?!” I asked incredulously.

The piece threw its head back, laughed at my outburst and replied with a very haughty “Yes.”

“WANKER!!!” I yelled back. It was at that point that I realised I was losing the plot. It was time to think about something else.

So I diverted my attention to other things around the exhibition pieces and what caught my fancy was, predictably, signage. With that as a starting point, I took out my camera (which was unfortunately on its last dying battery breath) and took photographs of “relationships” within the space:

1) Gallery signage and how it interacted with the artwork
2) People and how they interact with the space
3) How pieces of art “interacted” with other pieces of art

That brief exercise did the trick. I didn’t have another argument with an inanimate object that afternoon. And I hope for my own sanity I never will have to have one ever again.


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