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Tuesday, December 02, 2003

For once this day was about art, not food

(Well, perhaps just a bit about food.)

Fantastic day today hanging out with Max at the Tate Modern, collectively pondering Sigmar Polke's overblown images. How big is his studio, I wonder.

The most striking piece today was by Thomas Hirschhorn, who was a part of the new Common Wealth exhibit. It was an installation made to look like a doll house, or a doll hotel? It was made of everyday materials like cardboard boxes and plastic toy furniture. It was called Hotel Democracy. Each room inside this “hotel” has a theme, featuring ordinary everyday items, interspersed odd things like the bible, the Koran, or guns. Each forms an interpretation of what a democracy is from a point of view. The Chinese room shows democracy as capitalism. The American room is like a military command center, implying the idea of democracy as military power. There was also a room that looks like the occupant is a would be suicide bomber, with a Koran and some explosives.

Max had to leave to do some bureaucratic errands, so I went up to lunch alone at the dining room upstairs. As I was munching on some lunch and admiring the absolutely stunning view of the Thames, I read the artist's statement for the Hotel Democracy installation, and found it even more fascinating, I ended up buying another ticket just to get back to see it in the exhibition. BTW, if you want to have lunch at the upstair room at the Tate, you'll be doing it for the view, not the cuisine. Don't tell me I didn't warn you.

Max and I met again later in the day to see Paul McCarthy's show at a new gallery in Piccadilly. I'm not a huge fan of McCarthy's work, finding the blown up statue of Pinocchio in front of the Tate Modern odd at best. However, I was intrigued enough to go check it out after Max told me it was supposed to be so offensive to Bush.

So there we were, at this old building that used to be a bank. The building space was fantastic, a multi-floor cavernous wood paneled space. There were also many small rooms that appeared to have been vaults, complete with huge walk-in closet size safes.

The show itself was a bit tedious. There were video pieces of the artist himself wearing a giant foam head made to look like Bush. Did I mention he was also naked from the head down? The Bush/McCarthy character was doing all kinds of McCarthy-esque offensive things like feigning defecation and pouring chocolate sauce on another naked body wearing a head piece that somewhat resembles the Queen. It was oddly fascinating though, kind of like watching a car wreck: you don't want to stare really, but it's hard not to.

Afterwards we walked over to meet Simon at One Aldwych for a drink. It was so crowded that we decided to go to Simon's club nearby instead. Max had to go meet his dad for dinner so Simon and I went à deux to dinner at the India Club.

The India Club was like a cafeteria. The food was definitely not the same class as Mela or the Tayyab, but it was nice nonetheless. The better part of that meal was listening to Simon reminiscing about old school days when he attended King's College nearby.


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