Today we tackled the Tate Modern, no mean feat given the renovations the gallery and surrounding area are currently undergoing. So far we've taken shelter in galleries to escape the cold as much as soak up some kulcha, but such is the cavernous concrete and steel interior of the Tate Modern that little warmth was to be had. The current exhibition, Performing for the Camera (Feb 18 - June 12), a collection of 50 black and white photos exploring the relationship between photography and performance also did little to warm the cockles. It made me think that living in the 21st Century we are rarely shocked or awed by art any more.
"The latter is also a record that there was once a time, long, long ago, when women had hair down there."
What was once considered cutting edge is now retro, even quaint, such as photos documenting an "Anti-war naked happening and flag burning at Brooklyn Bridge" and naked women decorating a giant canvas with their paint smeared bodies overseen by a dapper chappy in a suit. The latter is also a record that there was once a time, long, long ago, when women had hair down there. These things need to be remembered.
When you're gorging on art, and you take the time to read the gallery descriptions of artworks, you understand why some think art lovers are making it up as they go along – it's extrapolation on steroids. For example, the permanent exhibition's description of Picasso's Bust of a Woman 1944, a portrait of photographer Dora Maar, says " Her reconfigured features may reflect the complex atmosphere in the final weeks of the Nazi Occupation of Paris". Well yes, 1944 was a messy time in history, but maybe her "reconfigured features" were a) The work of a cubist; b) Painted after a two-bottles-of-red-lunch or c) It was wear a Funny Hat to Pablo's Day. We'll never know, which is true of many paintings. So, as a service to humanity, when next on my journey I'm viewing a work of art in need of context I'll fill in the gaps for you. You're welcome.