Hyundai Meets: Turbine Festival
Second record of Hyundai Meets
One city, one day at Tate Modern on 25th July, 2015
Hub of Communication and Art
The “One City, One Day” festival was held on July 25, 2015, at the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern in London. Beyond a simple representative event of the Hyundai Commission, the 10-year partnership aiming to sponsor and develop art projects in the Turbine Hall, this all-encompassing festival was organized in the interest of audience intercommunication. The one-day event also served to outline the future direction of the Hyundai and Tate collaboration, which included a donation of nine works by Korean media artist Nam June Paik.
The repurposed power plant serves as the site for the partnership, encompassing a colossal five-story exhibition space. The Turbine Hall has also functioned as a key component in the establishment of the Tate’s international reputation.
Field of Engagement
By midday, Turbine Hall was a hive of excited buzzing. The programming, overseen and executed by artists, dancers, DJs, chefs, musicians and others, comprised a diverse range a live performances, workshops, installations, and poetry readings for all ages. The exhibition hall consisted of tactile components that went beyond visual observation to stimulate the auditory, olfactory and gustatory senses. The space was transformed into a field of life and communication.
The scent of oranges filled an area near the entrance as part of The Groundnut Table, an introduction to a traditional West African drink. Guests were seated around a 20 meter-long table and were able to peel, core and drink directly from the fruit. The artist group behind the performance and installation often address equality and uniformity in their work; their piece for the Turbine Festival required guests to use an even and cautious manner when peeling the oranges. The more visitors participated, the stronger the citrus scent became and further diffused into the space. The open setting, which helped draw in more and more participants, helped contribute toward a feeling of community. Though festival programming was diverse, a common thread amongst was the goal to eliminate museum boundaries and seek direct encounters and experiences.
A local London-based group, Hackoustic, embodied the ambitions of the festival with a unique auditory piece. Their work enabled people to listen to the subtle sounds of hangers, hardware, abandoned objects, objects made of moss, and other discarded items. At the center of the piece hung a large instrument, similar in aesthetic to a traditional Korean percussion, which emitted different sounds depending on where participants struck it with a wooden or rubber hammer. It was the audience interactions that created the sounds, composing works of art in their experience.
Many of the festival components incorporated hands-on approaches. In Yuri Suzuke’s Imaginary Record Shop, visitors were able to create their own covers for records that reflected their individuality, which were gradually collected into a virtual record store. Juneau Projects’ I Am the Live Warrior brought together drawings and other images created from festival participants, capturing in a glance their unique perspectives. The snapshots, suggestive of fragments of memories, were placed on the wall to create a cohesive moving image. Exhibitions have evolved past typical boundaries and are transforming into an environment where audience members can contribute through their personal experiences. This shift is proof that visitors are increasingly gaining a significant role, and are even an integral element in many works.
As much as communication was key, there were also places for play and amusement. Crowns of Confidence by Rachel Young provided a real hair salon experience so participants could have the hair they wished for. The program accentuated the individual’s identity and provided a place of reflection for self-esteem and ego. On the other side was Evan Ifekoya’s FREE2Dance, in which headphones were distributed to visitors, who were then encouraged to dance. The resulting scene was recorded and played at the festival’s close. The interactive piece borrowed concepts from theater and psychology, as play is regarded as the best method to reduce tension and remove conceptual restrictions while encouraging active involvement.
Events continued on the second floor. One of the most notable was the appearance of a café in a performance called Hunt & Darton Café. The menu consisted of humorous doodles, with the two artists taking orders in pineapple hats and providing food almost for free. In the same vein as nonprofit charities or markets run by volunteers and donations, the café provided a place of rest. It became one of the most popular programs of the day, drawing lines of visitors. The performance represented a creative attempt to shorten the distance between art and audience using humor and objects from everyday life, and raised old questions about the definition of art.
As a whole, the Turbine Festival examined questions of authorship. Art is not necessarily created solely by artists, as was evidenced by visitors contributing new interpretations and being transformed into artist-participants. If most visual experiences aim to create by inducing empathy for objects and symbolic meanings, then direct experiences break down the boundary between art object and viewer. In other words, the viewer, observer or participant becomes the central agent.
The festival became a site of unhindered play for all ages, orientations, social and cultural groups for a single day. It reflected the philosophy of Hyundai Motors in its emphasis on communication, collaboration and creativity.
From Symbol of Power to Place of Experience
Chronological exhibitions are seen in most large-scale museums, but the Tate Modern set a new standard since its inception. The inaugural exhibition comprised of four themes—still life, landscape, figure and history—and blew away all expectations for its innovation. In 2006, the Tate transformed the permanent exhibition of its collection by using a subject-oriented context, simultaneously capturing the flow of art history as a whole. The new organizational structure was divided into Material Gestures, Poetry and Dream, State of Flux, and Energy and Progress. The museum has come to be known for its creative programming, which is able to truly highlight the art historical significance of works and the aesthetic value of its collections in diverse contexts.
The model of the Tate Modern is leading the drive for that perfect rendezvous between art and public. Museums have been seeking unconventional methods in order to create new experiences in art. In this respect, the Turbine Festival has marked a new era in exhibition history, breaking down fixed ideas of the museum and adding a new layer of complexity to both “experience” and “participation.”
The atmosphere in the Turbine Hall is now more vibrant than ever with the synergy between Hyundai Motors and the Tate Modern. The art world will be waiting to see what will be achieved next by the partnership. ■ with ARTINPOST