Tate Modern

Mitch Epstein and Marwan Rechmaoui

Natalie Bell Building Level 2 West
Mitch Epstein, ‘Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio’ 2003
Mitch Epstein, Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio 2003. Lent by the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, courtesy of the North American Acquisitions Committee 2011. © Mitch Epstein/Black River Productions, Ltd.

The rooms in this display focus on the relationship between artists and society

Some of the artists shown in the following rooms actively attempt to change the world through their work. Others are witnesses, focusing on problems in society as it is. Idealism is present too, in the belief that art can show us a better world and how we might move towards it. Artists have found many different means to convey their ideas. They can forcefully communicate a political message, or invite us to find our own way through layers of meaning.

This opening room brings together works that depict aspects of the built landscape as symbols for a wider social situation. Mitch Epstein’s photographs from the American Power series show the effects of power industries and infrastructures on the landscape. Although the photographs contain no human figures, they suggest the private or political interests that shape the harnessing and consumption of power resources. These have real environmental consequences.

Marwan Rechmaoui’s sculpture relates to a high-rise building that still dominates the Beirut skyline. It was built as an office block but was unfinished at the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). During the fighting, it became a sniper outpost. Too difficult and expensive to demolish, it now serves as an unofficial memorial to the conflict and its effect on the city.

Curated by Matthew Gale and Valentina Ravaglia

The Roman Family Gallery


Tate Modern
London SE1 9TG
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