Friday, February 24, 2006

How does Embankment really stack up as art?

With clear silicone; and tupperware.

That is how she did it. Rachel Whiteread, Brighton trained sculptor and winner of the Turner Prize, studied with gifted Decatur artist Ruth Franklin. Ms. Whiteread has created a sculpture in the Tate Modern grand hall which left me feeling lost and a bit sad. Not because of all the stylish people walking through the piece, a bit like mice, but really because of how it is made.

The piece is inspired by her attic which she says the boxes were cast from real boxes and made into plastic ghost boxes. Remember she is famous for castings, her most famous being the cast-in-concrete beton brut of an entire house with the house removed and leaving just the interior space as a solid. One begins to think of the layering of time in her work and in concrete this is so powerfully realized, so immortal.

But in plastic I was left feeling it was fake an empty. As I looked at the joining of the boxes which were glued together with clear silicone which was exposed like mortar between bricks I felt a sadness well up in me. The boxes are stacked like buildings in a city or Christmas presents around a tree, awaiting adoring children. But remember they are ghosts and are empty and offer us nothing except the memory of the box; which is sad in itself.

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