Some of you may know that this Christmas we were challenged by the SCA to do things we’ve never done before and would not consider doing otherwise.
The one thing I absolutely adore about London is the fact that you can visit almost any gallery or museum for free. The years of freeloading Monet, greek mythology and Vera Wang have taught me you should never pay for the good stuff.
The following events took place on Christmas eve…
If you’re like me your actual day doesn’t start until at least 5 pm so there am I again, pleasantly lost in a familiar place – Tate Modern. As usual it’s open till late, it’s always warm and the view of St Paul’s is absolutely breathtaking! What is there not to love about the place? By the way there are a couple of Picassos and Pollacks too.
As we were lounging on one of the sofas, recovering from the hog roast coma me and my mum established that we’ve never been in the belly of the beast – namely the paid galleries. Now usually I would disagree with such initiative due to my policy of not paying for such things (and my terrible student budget), but my mum offered to pay. Policy canceled – we were off onto a middle-class adventure!
The first exhibition we went to see was Conflict, Time, Photography. I will not go into detail about it but I’ll just sum it up with one sentence: If I see another picture of Hiroshima I’ll kill myself.*
But it’s Christmas! We decided to move swiftly to the happy, cheerful, drug-ridden Sigmar Polke.** (For the people who know me I have a very ironic sense of humour and I’ve been in trouble because of it many times. This was yet one of those times.)
As we entered the gallery I felt very conflicted – we’ve just paid £15 to see someone’s doodles and scratches?! Here and then I decided to have a new lifetime goal – to get some work of mine in Tate because obviously it wasn’t not too hard…
So, fuming, I started to examine the competition just to see what it takes exactly to make people pay to see your work in an Admission Free gallery.
So the closer I looked I realised what I was looking at were parodies of adverts back in the 60’s done with a marker on a spare sheet of paper. I started laughing. Louder than I should. In a gallery.
We continued our journey through the gallery and I slowly started to come to a terrible realisation as my mum was reading one of the big descriptions on the wall – this guy took drugs. A lot of them. He drew giant mushrooms and wicked paintings under the influence. Time for the awkward No-mum-not-all-artists-take-drugs talk. Ok, ok come on it’ can’t get worse, surely?
Nope. Polke had some fascination with pornography (for more information I’d recommend watching Good Bye Lenin!). There I was, looking at a massive painting of a naked lady twisting two of male genitalia together.
Finally we reach the pinnacle of the whole exposition – the Potato House. The pinnacle of Moderne Kunst (Modern Art for the ignorant). It is literally a house with a potato bolted in every joint.
I think I left my sanity at the entrance – now I have completely lost it – I was no longer a passive observer of the art, oh no! I steped into the shack, under the potato roof! I was experiencing art for millions of pounds!
The description read: ‘This is the house of the ‘dissident dweller’; a temporary shelter from which to view the world, or the circling worlds of Polke’s imagination.’ Walking through the gallery, now escorted by my own security detail I realised that Polke built this but never intended for it to be passively viewed. He was making fun of the whole modern art movement at the time, he was rebelling and it was my first time in a long time to rebel too. (It was definitely my first time to rebel in public.) No one said you should not interact with the art, instead of looking at it like some sort of an expensive mirror, only reflecting what you want to see.
As I stepped in the last gallery I found my sanity again, covered in snail slime, purple and blue in colour.
Calmer I walk out, smiling – Mischief Managed.
* On a serious note I could not recommend enough actually seeing Conflict, Time, Photography – it’s an unedited side of war that media never bother to show or talk about.
** Before that day I was absolutely ignorant of Polke’s existence so please don’t judge me.