Monday, January 17, 2011

A Summupence.

Dear Blog,

It's me, Celine. The program is now officially over, as of one hour ago. The crew packed themselves onto a bus and I waddled away with my overstuffed luggage, down to a dingy hostel that smells of sweat and floor cleaner. I'm staying in a room with twenty other twenty-somethings, which will, hopefully, prove to be good fun. Or at least not result in me chewing off my own foot. There's standing room-only five pound tickets to Hamlet tonight, and I'm thinking of attending. It's fitting that I would be without a seat, as that, I think, is a good metaphor for where I stand (or don't stand) in things just now. Looking back on the last few weeks, I am surprised by the things that have clung to me. I think the best artwork grows in you slowly, building, changing and dislodging your thoughts inconspicuously, its vibrations resonating, building to a pitch until it is no longer possible to ignore. The best art acts upon the body like a tuning fork.

I have been returning time and again to a piece we saw on the second day here, in the Tate Modern. It was the residue of a site specific installation done in 2007 by Doris Salcedo, seen in the huge Turbine Hall where Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds is currently installed. The work was/is entitled Shibboleth. The long chasm was meant to expose the racism upon which modernism and the contemporary Western world are built. For my purposes, it was more important that I saw the repair of the building; effectively the afterlife of the piece. A large concrete scar runs along the floor of the building, the lighter gray clearly visible against the darker, older concrete of the original floor. In her installation, Salcedo tore at the seams of the building, committing an act of violence against a seemingly impenetrable body. And to me, this idea of the body is key; for the building becomes a body through its destruction and repair. I have started to grapple more seriously than before with the notion that the body I am searching for exists already in the space upon which I choose to act.

It is strange and sad that this repair was not openly acknowledged as part of the piece, that the artist was not consulted in healing the wound she had unearthed- for I believe we are asked to consider that the artist here worked as an archaeologist, uncovering that which was already present.

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