A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Cildo Meireles at Tate Modern

Earlier this month I went along to Tate Modern to see the exhibition by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles.

It proved to be a wide-ranging, interactive delight, with all rooms containing large scale installations which were in turns thought-provoking, ingenious or aesthetically beautiful.

There was an emphasis on the tactile throughout, a lot of the rooms encouraging participation or requiring you to feel your way through. As you work you way through the various rooms it becomes clear that Meireles succeeds in invoking some pretty big ideas and concepts; morality, history, conscience and spirituality are some that I picked out.

The exhibition really gets going in Room 2. In particular the piece ‘Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals)’ is quite striking – comprising 600,000 1 penny coins on the floor being joined to 2000 bones at the ceiling by 800 small communion papers. It is quite a unique comment on the impact of colonialism on indigenous societies. More can be found on this on the Tate’s mini-site.

His piece‘Glovetrotter’ juxtaposes everyday familiarity with an alien lunar quality, various items hiding under a silver fabric mesh.

The piece ‘Red Shift’ was one of the exhibition highlights for me – a regular domestic room with one key difference in that all items are red. There are some brilliant details – you can open the fridge or wardrobe to find a further array of red objects. A spillage of red paint leads to you a side-room, which is completely dark. Towards the back you see what appears to be a sink…as you edge towards it you see it has a tap which is running…with red coloured water.

‘Fontes’ is a disorientating thrill – a small room full of identical black and white clocks and oversized tape measures and plastic numbers scattered around the floor.

‘Babel’ was another highlight for me – a huge shrine-like installation of analogue radios, stretching from the floor to the ceiling. The dark room is lit by the small coloured lights emanating from the radios. Each radio is quietly tuned to a different wavelength. It is a beautiful experience, in some ways similar to the Rachel Whitehead piece shown earlier this year at the Hayward Gallery as part of the ‘Psycho Buildings’ exhibition.

The exhibition ends with ‘Volatile’ a ‘U’ shaped dimly-lit room which requires you to remove your footwear and walk through 8 inches of white talcum powder, inviting you on a small personal journey before you reach a small, flickering candle. I have read some mixed reviews since but I thought it was just beautiful – a simple room full of visual and sensual minimalism.

A triumphant combination of artistic beauty, humour, ambition and far-reaching ideas.

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