“How It Is”: Miroslaw Balka at Tate Modern. January 2010.

Back in January, we went to Tate Modern where we walked into a black box. We went back a couple of weeks ago, just to see the box again. It is an installation by Miroslaw Balka: essentially, a giant container wagon, unlit. Walking in is like walking into black; an unknown darkness; it changes one’s perception, the way you sense people around you, and how you relate to space. It feels vast and unending – until you walk into the back wall. Turning, the entrance – the only source of light – is dimly illuminated from windows in the Tate’s end wall. Framed by the darkness, the windows themselves became a work of art – like a washed out Rothko. The whole effect was amazing; we stayed in the box for perhaps twenty minutes, whilst other people came and went. (The experience wasn’t heightened by shouting, running, fighting teenagers.) Despite the signs banning it, I snuck a couple of pictures – other people had their phones out taking pictures, some using flash (ffs!), and I thought I could hardly cause more disturbance than the kids running about. As it was, my partner, sitting in the dark, was unaware that I had taken any pictures, so the shutter seemed not to disturb at all. (I must write a post about the taking photographs in art spaces and concert halls sometime: institutions responses seem so contradictory.)

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