Tate in Ruins

Construction site of Phyllida Barlow's upcoming work for the Tate Britain Commission 2014.

Construction site of Phyllida Barlow’s upcoming work for the Tate Britain Commission 2014.

This title couldn’t be further from the truth, yet ruins are ever so present at Tate Britain.
After passing the magnificent – recently refurbished – entrance and rotunda, I came across the closed off Duveen Galleries, a building site, contradicting the initial polished reception. I overheard an attendant who, trying to amaze children, explained that the D Galleries will be host to Phyllida Barlow’s largest work in London to date, a work that will be made in response to the Tate’s collection. I couldn’t help but feeling a little enthralled myself.
Yet construction does not signify to ruin. Indeed, construction exploits ruin to make something new, rid of yesterday’s decay.
Ruin Lust, a recently opened exhibition curated by Brian Dillon, Emma Chambers and Amy Concannon, presents artists’ fascinations with ruin, or rather their lust (in the German sense) thereafter. Particularly interesting, is the way in which artists present ruin using ruin as medium. Such as Tacita Dean who created Kodak with some of the last monochrome standard 16mm film that the company produced. Or even John Stezaker who collages old postcards with cut-up photographs, creating an uncanny coherence with refuse.
Sneaky snaky photo doesn't do the artist justice.

Sneaky snaky photo doesn’t do the artist justice.

Last but definitely not least, Richard Deacon’s organic, sensual and curious shapes had me studying the works intently, trying to figure out how he could possibly contort the materials – wood, steel, marble, leather and ceramic – into the forms he desired. I am very aware that man has accomplished remarkable things, yet the unnatural shapes, produced by torturing the wood as it seemed, is what struck me, what stirred something in me.
And so, Tate 1 – Ruin 0.


Phyllida Barlow 31 March – 19 October
Ruin Lust 4 March – 18 May
Richard Deacon 5 February – 27 April

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