Ai Weiwei gave us porcelain sunflower seeds, Olafur Eliasson digitalised weather, Abraham Cruzvillegas a patch of living, breathing earth. Last year, French Danish collective SUPERFLEX installed a large swinging metallic ball and loads of triple seat swings: Instagram heaven. This year, it's the turn of Cuban performance artist Tania Bruguera.
In recent years, Bruguera has walked through the streets of Ghent pulling sheep with a bit between her teeth, stood naked for hours on end with a headless lamb carcass around her neck eating dirt (Burden of Guilt, 2004) and presented Tate with one of the most controversial pieces in its collection: Tatlin’s Whisper #5, 2008. This involves two mounted police officers performing crowd-control exercises inside the museum: it was last seen during Tate Modern's expansion in 2016.
Her 2018 Hyundai Commission, 10,142,926, is just as provocative. The work’s title, which constantly increases in number, is the sum of people who migrated from one country to another last year and the number of migrant deaths recorded so far this year. Rather than being printed on posters or labels, the title of the exhibition is stamped directly onto visitors' hands in red ink.
A monumental response to the global migration crisis, this immersive installation focuses on the neighbour and what it means to act and interact as a collective. True to her performative roots, Bruguera invites visitors to engage with her installation in order to activate it. You are encouraged to touch and lie on the heat-sensitive floor, which when done en masse, reveals a giant portrait of Yousef, a Syrian migrant who fled his home in 2011. Unlike many stories that flood the news, Yousef's is a happy one. On arriving in London, the young man sought help through SE1 United, a local charity, and is now studying biomedical science and working for the NHS.
Elsewhere, a small side room is filled with organic compound that induces tears, creating an immersive experience the artist calls 'forced empathy'. Booming low-frequency sounds are emitted from a wall of speakers at the far end of the hall, providing an eerie soundtrack to the installation. It's a sobering experience and a poignant reminder of the power of the collective in a world in almighty flux.
|What||Hyundai Commission, Tate Modern, 2018: Tania Bruguera|
|Where||Tate Modern, Bankside, London, SE1 9TG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Southwark (underground)|
02 Oct 18 – 24 Feb 19, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
|Website||Please click here for more information|