Focus on photography at Tate Modern in summer 2011
This summer, Tate Modern unveils a series of major new photography displays. Opening in galleries across every level, the displays include an important new body of work by Taryn Simon, iconic works by Diane Arbus drawn from ARTIST ROOMS, and a five room display of photography devoted entirely to new acquisitions from the Tate Collection.
On Level 4, Tate Modern presents A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII 2011, a powerful and elaborately constructed new body of photographic work by the American artist Taryn Simon. Over a four-year period, Simon travelled around the world recording bloodlines and their related stories. In each chapter, the external forces of territory, power, circumstance or religion collide with the internal forces of psychological and physical inheritance. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII is on loan from the Wilson Centre for Photography and is a promised gift from Jane and Michael Wilson. This important work will significantly enhance Tate’s holdings of major photographic works in the Collection.
A series of works by Diane Arbus (1923–1971) opens across three rooms on Level 3. Arbus is acknowledged as one of the great figures of American photography who created remarkable images of contemporary life. Arbus’s sympathy for her subjects exposed the variety and complexity of the human condition. Drawn from ARTIST ROOMS the display includes over 30 works including a unique series of rarely shown vintage prints. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour has been made possible thanks to the support of national fundraising charity the Art Fund.
On Level 5, New Documentary Forms explores the ways in which five contemporary artists have used the camera to extend and question the power of photography as a documentary medium. Consisting entirely of new acquisitions to the Tate Collection, it includes recent work by Luc Delahaye, Mitch Epstein, Guy Tillim and Akram Zaatari. This display will also include two important early works by Boris Mikhailov, including Red 1968-1975, which has been acquired with the support of the Art Fund. New Documentary Forms covers subjects as diverse as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, studio photography in South Lebanon, elections in the Congo and power production in the United States. Also on Level 5 in States of Flux, is a new display which looks at the exchange of avant-garde photographic practices between Western Europe and East Asia, as photographers in Japan took up ideas associated with the modernist style of the Bauhaus.
Photography has become increasingly central to Tate’s programme of exhibitions and displays as well as to the development of the Collection. In December 2009, Simon Baker was appointed the first Curator of Photography and International Art at Tate and Tate’s Photography Acquisitions Committee was formed the same year to support new acquisitions for the Collection. Tate is broadening its reach to acquire major bodies of photographic work which complement and relate to both the Tate Collection and the national collection of photography.
The new displays have been curated by Simon Baker, Curator of Photography and International Art at Tate; with Shoair Mavlian, Assistant Curator, Displays; Maeve Polkinhorn, Assistant Curator, Tate Modern and Lucy Askew, Curator, Tate.