This event is an experiment into what happens when a group of performance artists go undercover at Tate Modern. Many visitors won’t even realise these performances are going on around them and that’s part of the point. The artists take everyday activities like riding on an escalator or standing in a queue, and subtly intervene to subvert them. So we’re left wondering what’s real and what’s not.
The first piece is by Dora García. It’s called The Crowd, and consists of a group of actors posing as visitors, going through the galleries with a tour-guide, who is also playing a part. Genuine visitors can join the tour and there are few clues that anything is out of the ordinary. But at what stage do they register this isn’t the usual tour-guide spiel?
“The child, Alfred Hitchcock, was put in prison cell as punishment. A punishment, and was put there by his own father, and the authorities, who are accomplices in this unfair reprimand to a child.”
So I presented two performances today The Crowd and Prophets. So the prophets are two young attractive men that are distributing photocopies amongst the public, on these photocopies is printed what is predicted to happen in the future, in the near future, like until the next performance or in the next 24 hours, it’s always near future predictions. I always give I think very precise but brief instructions and actually I have no idea how the piece is going to develop so I am there as public watching my own work and seeing what happens. Sometimes it’s more interesting than others but I think this is really a sort of negotiation with reality how it is going to turn out.
The next piece is by Mario Garcia Torres and is a restaging of a work by Vito Acconci called Following Piece. That pretty much describes what this artist does. He picks people out and follows them, wherever they go in the building.
Mario Garcia Torres:
There’s a lot of reasons to do it. For me the experience of doing it will somehow become some sort of research on social relationships to see how people behave in the gallery and museum, to try and understand those behaviours.
The performance being staged by Roman Ondák is called Queue. It looks like an ordinary queue of people, except that they are lining up at rather odd places. In front of a wall, or a fire exit. The queue moves around the building to different locations throughout the day. Sometimes other people try to join in without knowing what it’s for. If they’re asked what they are waiting for, the performers are instructed to give the same response: ‘we’re just queuing’.
Jiří Kovanda is presenting two works that test social boundaries. One work involves him going up an escalator backwards and trying to look people in the eye who are below him. The other piece was inspired by the many glass walls we have here at Tate Modern, and the way they both separate and open things up.
I’m inviting people to kiss me through glass wall. It’s about connection, very close but very distant.
To round off the day, Nina Jan Beier and Marie Jan Lund are inviting everybody in the building to clap in time with each other. Though no-one’s told what they are applauding, that doesn’t seem to matter.
Marie Jan Lund:
We started it but at one point the centre moved. It wasn’t in our control anymore.
Nina Jan Beier:
We were surprised to see how easily it spread, how easily the instruction, the clapping itself as an instruction worked. That people actually just spontaneously joined.
Marie Jan Lund:
It felt like making an army strategy today kind of going around getting our troops placed in the right positions.