Saturday, June 03, 2006

Perfect for the iPod generation?

Well, it’s done. Not just the period of silence on the blog, which was due to the death of a router, but Tate Modern’s rehang. Instead of doing everything pretty much as they had done it the first time round, Tate Modern has changed everything around. Gone are the expansive white walls I knew so well; gone, by the look of it, is the sense of space.

This is one of the most anticipated rehangs of any art gallery in the last 10 or 20 years that I’ve heard of, and the crowds bear witness to that. Indeed, I have heard somewhere that a custodian in the excellent Museum of Modern Art in New York City told a visitor to go to Tate Modern if s/he wanted to see great art.

Lynn Barber has said of the rehang: “There is so much going on, luring you round every corner, that it is difficult to stand still and study a single work of art for any length of time. You feel a self-conscious prat if you do. This is a museum for channel-surfers, for iPod shufflers, for kids with attention deficit disorders — the temptation always is to run around shouting ‘Wow!’”

Why is this? For a start, the juxtapositions of the works are even more jarring and creative than before. Farting sounds from what seems to be a movie about farting apparently intrude into the Rothko room And that is unfortunate. But I didn't think that Monet’s waterlilies suffered the last time from being hung opposite this: in fact the effect was to make the former more alive and settling, the latter deeper, and both more real and strange. This time he’s opposite Jackson Pollock’s Summertime, and I can appreciate why.

The list of themes should serve to satisfy those who don’t want the mental clang of having to wander around and think on their feet. The increased use of the walls to hang paintings in clusters and place one or two above or below each other should please those looking for spectacle. And infuriate those looking for their spectacles. I’m very glad that Joseph Beuys and Cy Twombly are still there, and indeed in a room together (you wonder whether they’d have been happy to be so), but I’m less glad to hear that the Rothko Room is playing host also to flatulence off.

It’s good that photography is hosted here too, particularly this in the Left Gallery on level 3. The presence of photography allied with the gallery’s trademark name will draw a larger crowd, but will it attract the iPod generation? What is the iPod generation anyway?

Young, insecure, and with iPods, according to Wikipedia. Hmm. An acquaintance of mine says he was wondering alone around the rehang the other day with his Ipod on (not full-blast, I hope) and, besides the fact that that would distract me no end, he said he quite enjoyed it. But does that mean those who really care about standing in front of a work for a long time to get the full, er, picture will appreciate it, what with all the crowds? First, it’s worth remembering that the first hang was never crowd-free. Second, most critics seem to like it a lot. I guess it’s too soon yet to lust after the opening of the three massive circular oil tanks underground near the gallery (they are meant to be gallery space sometime).

Last but not least, I haven’t visited it yet. Aside from the obvious pleasurable catching-up with London and its people that I have to do, visiting this rehang will be an essential activity when I’m next there. Because Tate Modern is mine. Very much mine. Dammit.

tags: [] [] [] [] []

No comments: