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Posts Tagged ‘Tate Modern’

Museum goers view Tacita Dean’s FILM in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall.

FILM is the twelfth commission in The Unilever Series and runs through 11 March 2012. Click here for more details.

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I was aching for something cultural and Blair was restless in her painting studio, so we decided to meet up at the Tate Modern to see their permanent collection.

I love modern art museums, but any museum can be a serious marathon. Floor 3 with the surrealists is manageable, but by the time I’m at the Rothkos, I am shifting my weight from leg to leg and adjusting my typically massive bag from one shoulder to the next. This is when we decided we were in serious need of some caffeine and a snack if we were to continue. We headed to the 7th floor restaurant where the views were amazing and the atmosphere stylish.

Restaurant View

Blair, excited for her cake.

Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing I could say about the restaurant that day. We had really been looking forward to the cake and coffee. The server brought the wrong coffee, and when we did get the right one, it used real milk instead of the soy we had ordered. It was delicious, but I was concerned for anyone lactose intolerant. Then the cake came out. The carrot cake was spicy with a nice cream cheese icing, but the coffee cake was not at all like I had imagined. The sugar was overly intense. I had to scrape all the icing off in order to enjoy any bit of it. Even then I had a hard time tasting the coffee flavours through the sugar. The worst disappoint was that the chocolate covered espresso bean on top wasn’t an espresso bean at all. It was overly sugared espresso bean shaped chocolate. I guess they assume their clientele REALLY like sugar.

The selection

Oh well, I guess everyone has an off day?

Don’t order the coffee cake.

The good thing was that we had the sudden boost of energy we needed to continue on with the museum. We managed to squeeze in the Diane Arbus room right before closing. That is something I can recommend.

The Tate Modern Restaurant is open Sunday – Thursday, 10.00–17.30 and Friday – Saturday, 10.00–21.30

ARTIST ROOMS: Diane Arbus runs until March 31, 2012

Tate Modern Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Husband (did I mention Boyfriend has been upgraded?) wanted to see Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seed exhibit at the Tate Modern. This was an easy sell for me. I am a sucker for modern art museums.

Unilever has commissioned Ai Weiwei’s brainchild: 100 million hand crafted porcelain sunflower seeds displayed in the Turbine Hall. The colors of the concrete floor blend with the small porcelain seeds like a slight ripple in the floor’s texture continuity. As you approach you notice the individual pieces making up the whole until you eventually realize the small tiny pieces are sunflower seeds. At this point you want to pick one up and bite one, but the sunflower seeds are not real and the exhibit has been deemed non interactive for safety reasons. The dust from the porcelain is easily kicked up and can enter the lungs.

Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern

A fifteen minute video shows how these pieces were handcrafted in Jingdezhen, China. You get a glimpse into the lives of the 1600 people and two and a half years that the manufacturing took place. The people are grateful for the work but I’m curious to whether they find value in the project beyond a paycheck.

This reminds me of a story someone once told me about explaining the end use of  Mardi Gras beads to Chinese factory workers. “So… you toss this at someone out of a slow moving vehicle and girls will take their tops off?”

And perhaps that’s the point – to make me consider the “Made in China” label. Or maybe it’s a statement on how all these small pieces can make up a whole. How collectively we become something we could never be as an individual. The political weaves it’s way in and out of the display. There is mention of how the sunflower seed was once a symbol of goodwill between neighbors but was adopted and altered into kitsch and propaganda by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution.

Seems like a lot to say all at once.

“Did I get it all?” I asked Husband. He is standing on the bridge above the sunflower seeds looking down with awe that I haven’t seemed to muster.

Maybe I’m not suppose to be so worried about whether or not I got it right.

The exhibit is free and runs until May 2, 2011

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