Wednesday, July 16, 2008

oily adventures

Tate Modern opened its oil tanks to Tate members this weekend – yippee! Power Stations are a bit of a thing with me, ever since my work placement as a student at the HQ of a power company in South Africa. Bless her, my boss didn’t have a clue what to do with an art history student, so she sent me out on field visits to the power stations, leaving me with very fond memories of the “dark Satanic mills” kind. Actually, they are very exciting, even sublime places – the furnaces, the turbines, the cooling towers, etc etc etc.

My field of expertise is coal-fired stations, so seeing the remaining innards of an oil-fired station intrigued me. Also, I missed the tours of Bankside before the deplanting, which I have always regretted.

Anyway, I have to say the oil tanks were a slight disappointment. I’m not a driver, so I don’t really have a feel for how fast oil is burnt in a combustion engine. I was anticipating the tanks for a power station to be absolutely vast (at least 5 stories high) – so although these are big, they definitely are smaller than I was thinking.

The Tate was planning to convert the spaces into auditoria, but artists who saw them persuaded the authorities to leave them as ‘found spaces’ for artists to play in. So think circular versions of the turbine hall, not as high.

All very exciting, and the Tate is apparently going to announce Herzog and de Meuron’s developed plans for the new Tate Modern extension this week. It is planned for completion in time for the 2012 London Olympics. Yay!

P.S – I know I’m being retrogressive in insisting on ‘The’ Tate, but I really hate the branding company’s arrogance in attempting to annihilate the definite article. It’s an act of foreclosure on the English Language, no less, and imperial overstretch by ‘Tate’. Nicholas Serota will have to threaten to discontinue my membership before I submit to the ugliness of the naked Tate.

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