Art Review: The Tanks @ Tate Modern

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 76 months ago
Art Review: The Tanks @ Tate Modern
Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker Fase: Four movements to the Music of Steve Reich 1982, © Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Photocredit: Herman Sorgeloos
Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker Fase: Four movements to the Music of Steve Reich 1982, © Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. Photocredit: Herman Sorgeloos
Infinite Kusama, Tate Modern. 24.3.12

© Richard Eaton
Infinite Kusama Tate Modern 2012. Photocredit: Richard Eaton
Suzanne Lacy, The Crystal Quilt, 1987. © Work by Suzanne Lacy, with collaboration from Phyllis Jane Rose, Miriam Schapiro, Susan Stone, Nancy Dennis, and Sage Cowles. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Suzanne Lacy, The Crystal Quilt, 1987. © Work by Suzanne Lacy, with collaboration from Phyllis Jane Rose, Miriam Schapiro, Susan Stone, Nancy Dennis, and Sage Cowles. Minneapolis, Minnesota
Lis Rhodes, Light Music, Paris 1975. © Lis Rhodes
Lis Rhodes, Light Music, Paris 1975. © Lis Rhodes
Jeff Keen, Flik Flak, 1964. © Jeff Keen
Jeff Keen, Flik Flak, 1964. © Jeff Keen

The old oil tanks that provided fuel to the power station we now call Tate Modern have been converted into galleries for the performing arts, from video to dance. Much hype surrounded their opening, but is the attention deserving?

The Tanks are certainly atmospheric with the sound echoing around the cavernous and gloomy space. This ensures that attention is solely on the art, making the space perfect for performance.

Art in Action opens the Tanks with a 15 week long programme of performances ranging from  light sculptures to minimalist dance. This means the main tank will be more akin to a theatre than a gallery and the circular structure lends itself well to hosting an audience.

Alongside the constantly shifting performances are a few longer term video installations including Suzanne Lacy's giant and clever recreation of a patchwork quilt using chairs, tables and elderly women. The time lapse video is a joy to behold.

The largest commission has been given to Sung Hwan Kim and his darkly surreal videos that will shock and make you smile in equal measure. The mischievous element of his work is evident when he claims that butterflies in captivity seem to be having a good time, followed by footage of their futile and repetitive attempts to escape.

His latest work titled 'From the commanding heights ...' is the most commendable, featuring a bizarre story of a woman with a third ear on her head and a long neck inhabited by snakes. At first it seems like a bizarre fantasy before descending into a tragic story of an outcast stuck in an abusive relationship.

The Tanks are an excellent exhibition space, and this first exhibition goes a long way to realising their potential.

Suzanne Lacy and Sung Hwan Kim are on at The Tanks in Tate Modern until 28 October. Admission is free.

Art in Action consists of various performances. Admission costs vary.

Tate online

The Tate is also growing its online presence. The exquisite forest is a collaboration with Google and artists Chris Milk and Aaron Koblin to create a 'forest' of short animations that build upon one another. It's open to both artists and the general public.

The Gallery of lost art is a year-long exhibition looking at the stories behind artworks that have been  lost or destroyed, including works by Duchamp, Miro and Emin. It's available to view until 3 July 2013.

Last Updated 23 July 2012