Sunday, 9 November 2008

Cildo Meireles @ Tate Modern

This exhibition was quite different to others I have seen recently, as it was mainly installations most of which were interactive and allowed you to get involved. They were large and made a big impact when you saw them in the different rooms. You didn't quite know what each was about until you walked into it/experienced it hands on and read a little about the meaning and purpose behind each. The work was inspiring, refreshing and thought provoking. It was the sort of exhibition that you do not forget, and that I would go to see again. It is also the sort of exhibition where it is not necessary to know lots of information about the artist and his life. The small explanations about each piece of work are helpful to give you a brief understanding about the reasoning behind them, but even if you didn't read these the pieces would still be impressive and enjoyable to experience. However, now I have visited the exhibition and been part of his works I would definitely like to find out more information about the artist and his ideas.

The works were displayed in a different way to an exhibition like Francis Bacon, because the type of work is different. Rather than displaying small (or even fairly large) paintings, the installations took up a whole room sp
ace, as they were extremely large. You also had to queue up to get into certain rooms, as they had restrictions on how many people were allowed in. This added to the anticipation of what was in the room and what you were going to experience. Unlike most exhibitions where you are not allowed to touch anything, this was extremely different, especially in the final room where you entered a dark room and walked barefoot in talcon powder. Even though there are limits to how much you can touch the pieces, they are not treated as preciously as others works are at galleries. The display of this exhibition is however similar to Roger Hiorns Seizure in that you are encouraged to get involved rather than view if from afar.

This installation is called Red Shift and is comprised of a large room filled with red things everywhere, from the contents inside the fridge to the clothes in the wardrobe. It is a very strange feeling inside the room, slightly spooky, and you can imagine going mad if you had to be in there for a long space of time. Meireles describes the initial concept for the work as imagining 'a place in which someone, for some reason - whether due to preference, mania, imposition or circumstance - would accumulate in a given place the greatest possible number of objects in different shades of red'. Within the second part of the work is a tiny bottle that has spilled its red liquid contents, which leads into the darkened space of the third part of the work - a wonky red stained sink floating in space. There is red liquid running from the tap giving a very spooky vibe. According to the information given at the exhibition the title 'Red Shift' refers to a cosmological phenomenon: light that travels to Earth from distant galaxies gets stretched because the space that it passes through is expanding, a process that is believed to have started with the Big Bang.

My favourite work that I saw was titled Fontes and was comprised of 6,000 rulers, 1,000 clocks and 500,000 vinyl numbers. It demonstrates the aesthetic of accumulation which is a feature of many of Meirele's installations. Along the outside of the room where the installation is situated is a wall of clocks displaying different times, and these carry on along the walls in the room of the main work. There are numbers scattered along the floor, that appear to be fallen off of the clocks, and the whole experience is very surreal. Once you enter the room there are rulers that are hanging from the ceiling, creating a maze with a small passageway you can walk into, but this gets smaller and smaller leading you nowhere and surrounded by rulers flailing everywhere. In addition to the maze like intense experience that is provided by the physical elements of the room, there is also a soundtrack of different clocks ticking in different rhythms. According to the Tate booklet information this is the explanation to this piece of work ' The structure of 'Fontes' follows the spiral formation of the Milky Way, with the centre of the work most closely hung with rulers, decreasing in density towards the edges. Like the giant cellophane ball in 'Through', the spiral embodies the infinite, the phenomena of time and space that mankind attempts to limit or measure using the very systems that Meireles subverts in 'Fontes'. In my opinion the definitions of Meireles works are a little long winded and complex, but you don't have to be educated in the meanings to have your own experience within the exhibition.

Some other interesting information I found about the artist that explain in more understandable terms what he work is about : 'The Brazilian artist is famed for his mysterious, large-scale works...he is widely recognised for one of the leaders in the international development of Conceptional art. He has been creating sculptures and installations since the 1960's. With a fascination for scale, his work ranges from tiny single objects that could fit onto a fingertip, to huge installations filling gallery spaces. Meireles's installations are often composed of familiar everyday objects, arranged in a suprising or unexpected way. His work is engaging and challenging, drawing the viewer in.'

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