New underground art space in London: The Tanks

Issue no5
Oct / Nov 2017
REMIX

Tate Modern has launched an underground space, made especially for performance and video works, that will be the beating heart of the museum.

In 1994, Tate director Nicholas Serota and architects Herzog & de Meuron went into the closed-off oil tanks of the former power station that Tate Modern once was. Although the underground tanks hadn't been used for decades the smell of oil was still incredibly strong and the immense spaces had to be lit with a flash light to get a feel for it; the rough round tanks immediately showed their potential. The idea to create extra space for Tate Modern and to bring live art into the museum was born. It took some years of planning, hard work, patience and development before the first part of the new building could be opened for the audience.

July 16th was the moment of glory. The Tanks have a rough feel and are both designed differently to be able to use one of them for live performances and the other for temporary site-specific installations. One has four large pillars that define an open stage, the other has several lighter pillars that provide a good set of installation options.

Chris Dercon, director of Tate Modern, opened The Tanks with an energizing speech in which he introduced the space as the foundation of a totally new building for new media that will rise on top of the lower laying tanks. The Tanks will be the beating heart of the new Tate. It is the place where live art and big (performative) installations will be presented and audiences are invited to have an active role in shaping the future and to be part of diverse activities.

This summer starts off with Fifteen Weeks of Art and Action, a program which is presented as an 'open manifesto' - a call to define and shape the program. With the words of Chris Dercon: ‘Within Tate Modern's new generator it is the meeting of artworks and audiences that will establish what The Tanks are.’

Fifteen weeks of Art and Action shows works from the collection, a new commissioned installation, and a live program. South Korean artist Sung Hwan Kim presents his beautifully precise and compelling new installation Temper Clay, the first Tate Tank commission and site-specific installation. Next to this the fifteen weeks are filled with performances, workshops, lectures and film screenings by artists like Haegue Yang, Keren Cytter, Ei Arakawa, Tania Bruguera, Jeff Keen, Aldo Tambellini, and choreographers Boris Charmatz and Ann Terese de Keersmaeker. It is a high quality program that invites to stay over in London for the coming months.

Fifteen weeks of Art and Action
18 July - 28 October
The Tanks - Tate Modern

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Magazine
Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 5 — 2017