Date: 23 April 2012
Previously disused oil tanks left over from when Tate modern was a functioning power station are to become the world’s first museum galleries dedicated to live art. The tanks will be excavated and used to hold live events starting on July 18 and continuing for 15 weeks this summer.
"The Tanks will be the first spaces dedicated permanently to live art installation and performance in any museum building anywhere in the world," Tate director Nicholas Serota told Phaidon this morning. "Over the last 10 years we’ve been responding to the way art and artists have evolved in their thinking. The public wants to engage with these works in a very different way from simply going into a gallery and observing a work on a wall. It’s neither a white cube nor a black box,” he said.”
The Tanks measure 30 metres across and seven metres high and are the first phase of a £215 million extension project that will increase Tate Modern's size by over 50%. The opening programme in the East Tank includes a new commission by Korean artist Sung Hwan Kimn "which sees him interweave Korean culture, folklore and history, his own personal experiences and fantasy". The south Tank will host a series of projects including one by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, who will rework and perform a version of her early work, 1982's Fase: Four Movements to the music of Steve Reich.
East London-based artist Eddie Peake, whose previous work includes a choreographed a football game involving naked players, will create a new commission that "explores sexuality and voyeurism". The Transformer Galleries, raw concrete spaces next to the Tanks, will showcase installations of recent major acquisitions of film and performance. These include Suzanne Lacy's Crystal Quilt 1987, an exploration of the visibility of older women in the media created in a Minneapolis shopping centre.
We caught up with Catherine Wood, Curator of Contemporary Art / Performance at Tate Modern and asked her about the increasing popularity of performance art that's led to the Tate Tanks. “It’s been growing over the last 10 years,: she told us. "I started a programme at Tate in 2003 when I became aware that there were lots of young artists starting to make performances in their studios and in clubs, at a really grass roots level.
“They were using music and pop culture. My image of performance art was naked body art from the 60s, pain and authenticity self-harm - that kind of thing. But these artists were using pop music and costumes and painting and more image-based stuff. It was this drive to make communal events, to make live images for a group of people and witness it together that interested me. People were getting away form making something alone in their studios and getting together to make something that was witnessed actively. But through the process of 'doing'.
“There have been lots of homages and remakes. Tino Sehgal has done a short history of 20th century dance and Spartacus Chetwynd has remixed Yves Klein’s Anthropometries With Michael Jackson’s Thriller and The Wickerman. There’s this recycling of culture but it’s always about re-energising it. I don’t think they’re intimidated by history but to us in the museum it’s made us think how do we incorporate that and tell a story in ways that are more interesting than showing a few photos.”
The inaugural festival inside the Tanks runs from 18 July to 28 October 2012. Full details can be found on the Tate’s website.