26 December 2009

Modern art

A few days before Christmas I decided to go to the Tate Modern to kill some time. Modern art's generally not my bag, but I do like the big installations they put in the massive former turbine hall (8 storeys high and maybe 200 metres long for those who've not seen it). At the moment they've got an installation called How It Is by Polish artist Miroslaw Balka. And I loved it.

An entire end of the turbine hall is almost completely filled by a mammoth - and I mean gargantuan - metal box. It looks like a shipping container raised on stilts, but a shipping container that's 30 metres long and about 10 metres wide and high. You have to walk the length of the hall to get to the end, where you see that it's actually hollow; a ramp leads you up into the box itself.

And it's completely pitch black inside. You can't see anything at all - just an endless nothingness. But everyone else is coming out again and they don't looked maimed or traumatised, so you press on into the blackness. Presumably there's nothing inside that will actually trip you up or bump into you - I mean, think of the lawsuits. (Although I heard a rumour that an elderly gentleman did bump into something and break his nose on the first day it opened).

As I shuffled forward in the darkness, avoiding the sounds of other people on their way back to the light, I began to notice a dim glow. Up ahead it looked like someone was holding a torch in the darkness. In this massive (3900 cubic metres!) black space, which must have cost a fortune to build and install, a museum attendant in dark clothes is pointing the torch at something on the floor.

I edged closer, wondering what it could be...

It's a yellow hazard cone:

'Beware slippery floor''

Next to it, someone has been sick - a wet, messy splat.

And do you know why this is the coolest thing ever...?

Because I have absolutely no idea if that was part of the exhibit or if someone had just taken ill in the dark and thrown up there.

And I don't want to know either. It's perfect just the way it is.
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