Brexit-o-ween

I like my sex like I like my Brexit; hard and fast.

Street saying around Britain

My sex is like Brexit; glacial and unresolved.

Reality around Britain

The whole point of the schedule of Pawn’s current visit to London was to be here for the (latest) deadline of the UK’s execution of its Article 50 withdrawal declaration; Brexit. Brexit deadlines have figured in most of the last several such trips, ever since Pawn’s June/July 2016 visit, during which the ill-fated Brexit vote itself occurred, to such disastrous results. As with previous such deadlines, however, this one, too, has passed without resolution.

I shan’t go delving into the latest hubbub; there’s news channels and such for that. Suffice to say that politicians have learnt there are, in fact, limits to their powers. As for the whole Brexit topic, let’s leave it at this: British divorce from the EU is a worse policy decision than George W Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, but the ultimate effect upon the UK will be more like Bush’s policy’s effect upon Iraq than like its effect upon the USA. While it’s easy to see the Brexit vote as nothing more than the clear expression of the people’s will (it was a referendum, after all) it’s closer to the Bush’s fiasco than that. Bush lied to his own government, his own people, and to the governments and people of US allies in order to win his way. Brexiteers did the same.

Okay, so what does one do when the Brexit ball is kicked down the road? One goes to look at art, that’s what. So on Brexit-o-ween, Pawn proceeded down to Bankside, burrough of Southwark, and Tate Modern. Current shows include Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life, and what I’ve been referring to as a bafflingly comprehensive retrospective of Nam June Paik, the pioneering video artist. The former is big, bold, audience pleasing, and, due to massive phone-weilding crowds, unsatisfying. The latter is smaller, in the scale of its individual pieces, if not its scope, and, blessedly, less cluttered with the zombified masses of people mesmerized by the image in their phone rather than by the actual art in front of them.

One thinks Paik would have preferred it this way, and, for all I know, Eliasson would too?

Pawn witnessed the Paik first, and then the Eliasson, so here’s some snaps of each, in that order. But first, in the spirit of a day “…not spent, but well used up…” (in the words of Gilbert and George) in the pursuit of art, let’s start with a piece of simple graffiti found along the Shoreditch High Street, by Boxpark

The face, dummy, not the scrawl!

Now the Paik…

TV Buddha, 1974
TV Garden, 1974-77
Exposition of Music: Electronic Television exhibition poster, 1963
Robot family, father & mother
Richard Nixon television address, on a timer, first one image is distorted, then the other.
One Candle, (Candle Projection) 1989
Sistine Chapel 1993, shown for the first time since inclusion in German pavilion of the Venice Biennale of that year.

Ed Ruscha has adorned the Artists Rooms, and here’s his 2017 rumination on the US flag:

Ed Ruscha 2017

And now the one photo I took from the Olafur Eliasson exhibition, In Real Life. This exhibit was so totally clogged with people staring into their phone’s camera screens, that it was almost impossible to navigate the space, let alone enjoy any of the artwork. Also contributing to the claustrophobic effect of that was the fact that the hall was crawling with school children. Involving kids in the arts from a young age is to be applauded, but in this case there was far less supervision than required, and kids were slamming into artworks, slapping them (and each other) and careering about the galleries.

So this one photo I took? It’s of Din Blind Passager (your blind passenger) 2010, realized here in a long hallway, running almost the entire length of one of the exhibit hall’s walls. This hallway, narrow enough that one can reach out and touch both walls, has air- and light-lock rooms on each end, is filled with incredibly dense theatrical fog, and illuminated for almost its entire length in a vivid amber colour. Near the far end of the tunnel, the lighting changes to a very bluish white. One can generally only see about 18″ in front of oneself. Pawn took this single photo within this hall, of the unknown woman walking ahead of me:

And, of course, no visit to Tate Modern would be complete without whatever the hell they’ve decided to put in the Turbine Hall. Here it is Kara Walker’s turn. And this completes our tour…

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