A fair warning: if you have your work Christmas drinks tonight there are a few works you might want to avoid in Tate Modern tomorrow.
We would definitely avoid Bruce Nauman’s Violent Incident on Level 4. The 12 monitors show a dinner turning into a fight. The actors seem to be stuck in an endless cycle of pointless conflict, which might seem just too close to office life. And even if you have an improbably pacific workplace, the shouting will be too much for you to handle after all that cheap wine your manager laid on.
Downstairs isn’t much better. Francis Bacon’s Seated Figure sits in an indeterminate physical space, trapped in a painted box which ‘underlines the sense of isolation as well as generating a claustrophobic psychological intensity,’ according to our curators. Not the best when you’re feeling delicate. There are even dangers lurking within the cool sanctuary of the modernist displays: Werner Mantz’s photographs look at first like abstract geometric patterns, but Staircase Ursuliner Lyzeum, Cologne 1928 is actually a stomach-churning, vertigo-inducing view of a stair well.
So maybe best not to visit Tate at all then? Well no. Then you’d miss the Christmas fair on the South Bank, the chance to get last minute present bargains from the Tate shop sale, and the wintery view of St Paul’s from the Members Room. And there are a few artworks that can soothe any sorry state.
Dod Proctor’s Morning shows a teenage girl enjoying a serene sleep you probably didn’t manage last night, although she does seem to have lost her duvet at some point. Or you could stand close to Monet’s Water-Lillies and imagine yourself at his tranquil garden in Giverny.
The best place to take the edge off a hangover is the Rothko room – stare into his massive canvases of deep reds and you could be back in bed, the dim winter light shimmering through your closed eyelids…
If it all gets too much, take a trip down to the Tanks to Lis Rhodes’s installation Light Music. The beams of two projectors cross each other in a darkened room, an ‘experiment with celluloid and sound to push the formal, spatial and performative boundaries of cinema’. The perfect place for a nap. (Don’t really. Just go home. Happy Christmas!).