The Tanks: Art in Action at The Tate Modern


A strange and surreal underground world has opened up beneath the foundations of the Tate Modern. If you venture through a sliding door at one end of Turbine Hall, you can now go down into the spaces that were once used as oil tanks in the old power station. These stark and concrete rooms have been beautifully made over by Herzog & de Meuron into huge spaces for art work, events and exhibitions. The Tanks, which obviously get their name from their old usage, are showcasing some extraordinary exhibits during the next 15 weeks and many of them are free­. The festival of live art, performance, installation and film works starts on 18 July and runs until 28 October 2012. To see more details you can click here.

To kick off the season at The Tanks is a star piece by Sung Hwan Kim. We have also included a couple of other installations to give you a feel for what is coming up.

Sung Hwan Kim

18 July – 28 October 2012 Free

The Tanks are showcasing a brand new installation by Sung Hwan Kim, one of the key artists of his generation working in an interdisciplinary way with video and performance art. In his work, the artist takes on the role of director, editor, performer, composer, narrator and poet. Kim is known for incorporating installation, video, performance, music, light and drawing into his works and uses many disciplines to tell a story. For this installation he has divided one of the tanks into two atmospheric rooms where light and images bounce off mirrors, reflective material and walls. Juxtaposed with music from his long time collaborator, musician and composer David Michael DiGregorio, who records and performs under the name dogr, a distinctive mood and pace is established within the films.

Suzanne Lacy – The Crystal Quilt 1985-7

18 July – 28 October 2012 Free

This is the Tate Modern’s ‘Work of the Week’. Suzanne Lacy’s The Crystal Quilt 1985–7 took place over three years in Minneapolis, Minnesota. One day over 3 years ago, 430 women aged over 60 from Minneapolis gathered together to perform in a live tableau, lasting an hour and broadcast live on a public television network. Staged on a series of tables laid out on a huge square rug, the performers sat four to a table, their hands laid on the coloured tablecloths changing at ten-minute intervals to echo the shapes of different quilt blocks (the quilt being an emblem of the traditional sharing of North American female experience). While the performers discussed their experiences and reminiscences, the audience also listened to a soundtrack by composer Susan Stone mixing the voices of 75 women talking about ageing. A collaborative and public artwork, it explored how the media portrayed ageing and what the role for older people in public was.

Jeff Keen

18 September – 23 September 2012 – Free

Jeff Keen (1923-2012) was based in Brighton and was one of Britain’s most unique cultural voices, a pioneer in experimental film who transformed art and cinema through a vivid sensibility fuelled by surrealism, comics and B-movies. He was a Second World War veteran and his work encapsulates the violence, colour, speed and noise of the 20th century. This major installation, conceived by Keen in response to the unique nature of the Tanks space, and a series of events will draw on Keen’s early experiments in drawing, painting and animation, his fascination with surrealism and popular culture, and his radical development of expanded cinema, cut-up soundtracks and unruly live action. Keen’s films and performances emerged within the climate of literary happenings and ‘bomb culture’ at Bob Cobbing’s Better Books in Charing Cross as well as Gustav Metzger’s 1966 Destruction in Art Symposium. Recalling American underground films by Jack Smith, Ken Jacobs and Kenneth Anger, his work also resonates with Happenings, Fluxus and Viennese Actionism. Nothing stands still in his work, it is a constant process in which images and sounds evolve in quick succession through what Keen calls ‘violently disconnected and overlapping patterns’ of destruction, creation and accumulation. Jeff Keen passed away on 21 June 2012. The presentation of his work in the Tanks is dedicated to his visionary creative spirit.


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