TateShots

Making Traces: Behind the Scenes

From curators and art-handlers to conservation teams, discover how different departments at Tate collaborate to make a display happen

Tate Modern recently unveiled Making Traces, an entire new wing of its free collection displays. This week’s TateShots goes behind the scenes during the installing process.

Head of Displays Matthew Gale explains how various departments across Tate collaborated to bring together this new presentation, from curators and art-handlers to conservation teams.

The theme of Making Traces explores making as gesture, the trace of an action, and includes artwork created as recently as 2014. At the centre of the display is the iconic Rothko Room, which brings together Rothko’s nine Seagram murals for the first time in three years.

Transcription

V1: We’re installing here a new set of rooms called Making Traces. The wing of galleries that we’re occupying now have previously been exhibition galleries so this has allowed us to install a whole new set of galleries all at once. To enter into an open space of eight or nine galleries, yes, that’s a tremendously exciting moment.

V2: The wing is meant to give a sense of the variety of practises in which artists physically and metaphorically make traces.

V1: The whole process is a collaborative one. The displays team includes colleagues, curators who have their own particular in-depth knowledge about different areas of the collection. We have certainly built the displays around the Rothko Room. It is the must see room I suppose at Tate Modern.

V3: The Rothko Room has become almost a legend in Tate itself and they are perhaps some of the most popular works that we have with our public and so it’s really exciting for us to be here to be able to install all nine of these works together for the first time in three years.

V1: The gallery that we’re hanging this morning which has monochrome works, which is immediately outside the Rothko space, most of those works were made at exactly the same moment that Rothko was working and so it sets up a dialogue across those two spaces. A number of the works in the big gallery about painting and technology are new acquisitions; recently made works in fact. We have a computerised planning tool which allows us to visualise works in the space in a three dimensional way. To see how people come in to find the old favourites and be surprised by the new things is… that’s endlessly rewarding. The place one encounters it is on the moment that the doors open and you see people pour in and immediately are engaging with things, or dismissing them. I mean one has to allow for people not to like things, and that sense of excitement, of drama, you are drawn from one space to another, and that’s part of our wider public service, bringing that innovative way of looking at international art to the 5,000,000 people who come to Tate Modern each year.

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