Taste of anarchy in skill-testing Tate exhibit

May 22, 2009

The Tate Modern art gallery in London is reviving an interactive installation that was forced to shut in 1971 due to the “exceptionally exuberant and energetic participation” it provoked in visitors.

The work by artist Robert Morris on show in the Turbine Hall as part of a four-day festival titled “The Long Weekend” is constructed mainly of unpainted wood and includes such objects as a balance beam, a caged ramp, a rolling tube and a sloped climbing wall.

Participants slither and slide on the slopes, feel a sense of terror in the rolling tube and clutch at the air on a rocking panel.

The original materials weren’t strong enough to sustain the “unbridled enthusiasm” of gallery-goers unused to installation art.

It seems the initial crowds used the space like a gymnasium and had no qualms about intensive interaction.

“In 1971, this work was a surprise to both visitors and gallery staff, neither of whom knew quite how to respond to it,” a Tate spokesperson said after the Friday launch.

What makes curators think the installation will fare any better under the heavy feet of gallery-goers today?

“Tate Modern now has a history of producing innovative artist’s commissions in the Turbine Hall, some of which have been participative, such as Carsten Holler’s slides and the Fluxus Olympiad, therefore it has an excellent understanding of how to ensure a safe and informative experience for all viewers.”


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This sounds amazing. I am so glad that the Tate decided to try this exhibit again. I guess the 70s weren’t all bad :)

Posted by tracey | Report as abusive