Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Nature Of The Catastrophe

Down to the Tate Modern to see the new work for the Turbine Hall - Dominique Gonazalez-Foerster’s TH.2058. The conceit is that it’s fifty years in the future; a strange and continuous rain has caused sculptures in public spaces to swell and grow, so they’ve been brought indoors; and human refugees seeking shelter from the rain sleep amongst them on ranks of bunk beds, entertained by a mashup of old sci-fi films, and SF novels and other admonitory texts about the future.

The Turbine Hall is a challenging space. The cleverly enlarged sculptures, in particular replicas of a Louise Bourgeois spider and a bright red Alexander Calder piece, lend structure to fill its stark volume, looming over the bunk beds, which are both domestic in scale and, in their repetition, industrial/commercial, like a supermarket storage area emptied by looters. As a narrative framework in which the audience can wander, and invent their own stories, it works well enough - the schoolchildren visiting it were definitely energised by it - but the concept itself seemed somewhat thin and sketchy. Why does the rain make the sculptures grow? Why do they increase in scale and kept their exact form - why don’t they swell or mutate? Where is the human detritus we associate with vast disasters, or the intricate detailing of fully worked futures, as in Children of Men?

Outside, walking west along the river, I saw a maintenance platform beside Blackfriars Bridge -like an amphibious refuge in some global flood, full of human clutter and detail, and life. It’s the last that was missing from the antiseptic tableau in the Turbine Hall. Still, even if it didn't fully engage me, I enjoyed witnessing the intrusion of a possible future into this public space, if only because I have a professional interest how it will stimulate discussion of SF tropes.

Also seen: copies of The Quiet War in the wild - in Forbidden Planet. Reader, I signed them.


Blogger PeteY said...

Got one!

October 26, 2008 1:33 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Does this count as viral marketing?

October 29, 2008 1:52 pm  

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