As The Tanks Fifteen weeks of Art in Action programme enters its fourth week, Tate’s Young People’s Programmes led by Mark Miller are putting the finishing touches to Undercurrent, which is scheduled to fill the South Tank from the 16 – 27 August. Comprising a series of events and interventions by audio, visual, digital and performance artists, Undercurrent invites a diverse range of artists and audiences to explore the influences of subcultures upon dominant culture. In keeping with the architecture and location of the Tanks, at the core of the programme is the exploration of the ‘underground’, with artists working in participatory and ephemeral ways to examine the contrasts and connections that make or define culture.
Over eleven days artists including Jon Fawcett, Hetain Patel and Leo Asemota, and collectives such as Isys Archive, W Project and Rinse FM will inhabit the space, introducing cross-disciplinary practices and exploring the influences of wider visual, audio and performance movements on mainstream culture. Key figures from Jerry Dammers to Bounty Killer, from Dubstep to Theremin, will be represented within the museum, perhaps for the first time.
To give a brief flavour - visitors can expect to see films, hear music, join in on talks and workshops, digitally intervene and add their responses to a live audio-visual intervention, as artists create installations, explore the world of conspiracy theories, create a ‘City Symphony’ and document the lexicon of urban tribes. Undercurrent, as with the entire Art in Action programme asks questions, tests new ideas and invites experimentation and participation.
The Undercurrent programme has been structured for and by young people, with the support of the Young People’s Programme curators. The majority of the artists contributing have been selected through previous projects with Tate Collective, Tate’s young people’s group, who plan and organize events for other young people aged 13 – 25 across Tate Britain and Tate Modern.
Although ground-breaking in many ways, Undercurrent builds on years of involvement by young people in the workings of Tate. Through its Learning departments, young people have developed programme at the gallery since 1994. Collaborating with a wide variety of emerging and established artists, young people have created events, commissions, displays and exhibitions, which have developed on an international scale over the past decade. The Young People’s Programme allows young people to bring their cultural experiences, their ideas and knowledge to negotiate and develop active spaces where other young people can learn, respond and experience Tate.
The relationship with the gallery is two-way though, with young people increasingly informing the cultural production of the gallery itself. As Mark Miller says about the Undercurrent programme: ‘Young people find themselves at an interesting intersection between access to infinite forms of information via digital technology and the realities and challenges of their immediate physical, social, political and economic environments. At the centre of this is art and the important role it plays in our comprehension of our immediate and global communities. Undercurrent takes these ideas and makes them visible and in doing so paves the way for the museum of the future.’