By Greg Salter
August 25, 2012
Down at the Tate Modern on London’s Bankside, The Tanks – the gallery’s newest exhibition space, reclaimed from the old power station’s oil tanks – opened recently to a bit of a mixed reception. By and large, critics loved the space itself, developed by Herzog and de Meuron, though many were a little disappointed with how the first installations were presented. You can put all that down to teething problems perhaps – give the gallery and curators time and they’ll find the best way to utilise the Tanks’ dark and frequently disorientating spaces.
As part of their launch, a number of interactive events have been taking place for a few weeks now and, on Saturday, Tate Collective staged a performance by Factory Floor. The London-based trio’s performance was hypnotic and visceral, suggesting that this might be the kind of event the Tate might want to revisit consistently with their new space.
The band were set up in one of the Tanks’ large, cavernous spaces, turned in to face each in the centre. As a visitor, you made your way into the room and gathered around them in a circle – it felt a little bit like watching the band rehearse, albeit in a vast rehearsal room unlike any other. The sense of it being like a rehearsal was reflected in their relaxed, improvisatory attitude to their music – the band are known for their intense live shows and the noise was certainly pummelling at times, but they also seemed happy to let the music slip into a mechanised, repetitive groove that changed subtly as you stood and listened. Abrasive, clipped shards of noise would lapse into the more DFA friendly rhythms found on last year’s ‘Two Different Ways’. It was hard to tear yourself away.
Visuals came courtesy of Dan Tombs, and they were very similar to those of the ‘Two Different Ways’ video, though here they rose up on the walls of the Tanks, silhouetting the band and various dancing members of the audience. In other rooms, there were intricate, complex installations by Suzanne Lacy and Sung Hwan Kim, both of which required a fair amount of quiet contemplation and close listening to whispered, recorded voices – Factory Floor’s non-stop, two-and-a-half hour set felt like a bit of a contrast at first, until you noticed people standing around with their eyes closed, or sitting cross-legged in front of the projections, just listening.