Press Release

Self Evident: The artist as the subject 1969-2002

Self Evident: The artist as the subject 1969-2002: Press related to past exhibition.

Tate Britain  Linbury Galleries
28 October 2002 – 5 January 2003

Self-Evident is a display of works selected largely from the Tate Collection of art made in Britain from 1969. It examines how artists have presented themselves as the subject of their work, either by using their own physical presence, or by drawing on their personal or shared experiences. Shown in the Linbury Galleries, Self-Evident includes the work of several highly influential British artists of the last half-century, many previously shortlisted for the Turner Prize. Fittingly, it runs for the duration of this year’s Turner Prize exhibition on Level 2.

The display will reflect a noticeable shift in artistic practice since the late 1960s, when, more than ever before, artists began to portray themselves as active participants in the world, as opposed to detached observers. This shift coincided with the emergence of Conceptual and Performance art.

Artists began to adopt a diaristic, narrative-based art as a form of expression, using the first person to convey ideas, emotions and experiences. Many explored political and social issues relevant to their situation - such as the rights of women or cultural identity, whilst others addressed the frailty of the body and the fragility of the human condition.

An acknowledgement of the body as a site for experience and the making of art became a focus for work at this time, in particular through performance. The emphasis was on process rather than product, and film and photography were widely used to record situations, events and interventions. The immediacy of the camera and its experimental status from the late 1960s meant it was perceived by many artists as the medium which has the most direct engagement with the world, and therefore the ideal tool to investigate the subject matter of the self.

Among the many important works in the exhibition are Gilbert and George’s photo-piece England 1980; Margaret Harrison, Mary Kelly and Kay Hunt’s installation Women and Work: A Document on the Division of Labour in Industry, 1973-5, Richard Long’s text and photographic work Cerne Abbas Walk, 1975, Mona Hatoum’s film Measures of Distance 1988 and Mark Quinn’s hanging sculpture No Visible Means of Escape, 1996.

Self-Evident includes several works borrowed from the Helen Chadwick Estate and those from the Arts Council Collection, Hayward Gallery, London. It is curated by Mary Horlock and Katharine Stout, Curators at Tate Britain.