Something that intrigued me at Tate Modern was an artist who portrayed individuals without showing their faces. The subject was inaccessible, and it was not available for scrutiny and categorisation. They were de-individualised. The art pieces were all by Lorna Simpson a multimedia artist. Her work often portrays black women combined with text to express contemporary society’s relationship with race, ethnicity, and sex. In many of her works, the subjects have obscured faces, causing a denial of gaze and the interaction associated with the visual exchange. Through repetitive use of the same portrait, combined with graphic text, her “anti-portraits” have a sense of scientific classification. This classification addresses the cultural associations of black bodies. These art pieces have an obvious political theme to me. Mostly because I think this artist is saying that beauty is defined by society and thus shouldn’t have real value. Her work furthers suggests that we should not judge others. That is why her medium for her portraits are in black and white. Her artwork is also political because most of her subjects are black women and it addresses the deep-seated racism that we did have and still have within our country.
Five Day Forecast by Lorna Simpson
Twenty Questions by Lorna Simpson
The sculptures by Louise Bourgeois also intrigued me. He was a French-American artist, best known for his large-scale sculpture and installation art. “The Cells” cause the viewer to examine psychological and intellectual states, primarily feelings of fear and pain. Bourgeois said that the Cells represent “different types of pain; physical, emotional and psychological, mental and intellectual… Each Cell deals with a fear. Fear is pain… Each Cell deals with the pleasure of the voyeur, the thrill of looking and being looked at.”
Spider by Louise Bourgeois
Cell Eyes and Mirrors by Louise Bourgeois
One question that our professor asked that piqued my interest is: Should art, from different countries, go back to where it originated? And is it cultural appropriation? These questions remind me of a piece of artwork by Barbara Kruger called “Who Owns What?” This work was assigned on a different day, but since it is relevant to today’s post, I chose to use it now. She is an American conceptual artist and collagist. This piece was from the media section of Tate Modern. This art piece has some obvious political themes in it. This art piece is political in general, especially with the question right in the middle. “Who Owns What?” an obvious question about capitalism, in my eyes, and also presently the idea of cultural appropriation and misappropriation. The funny thing is cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture. Cultural appropriation is sometimes portrayed as harmful, framed as cultural misappropriation, and claimed to be a violation of the collective intellectual property rights of the originating culture. Cultural appropriation has value as it brings about education and understanding from different points of view. It’s just when there is a violation of culture that it is misappropriation. If we started going down the rabbit hole of returning artwork where it belonged who’s to say where this “cultural appropriation” reclaiming would stop? Should zoos be affected? Maybe even aquariums? Heck, maybe it could even apply to people buried in cemeteries where they were not born. My point is this question has an obvious answer in my point of view. No and no. As this art piece says “Who Owns What?” One question remains, who owns what art piece?
Our first real day out and about in London with a guide let us see some very impressive architecturally designed structures. One that I was the most intrigued by was the Albert Memorial, which was done in a Gothic Revival style. When built it cost about £120,000 (now that would be about £10,000,000). The Victoria Memorial was also very interesting and impressive. The Victoria Memorial has an elaborate scheme of iconographic sculpture. It was the centerpiece of an ambitious urban planning scheme. There is a great deal of symbolism in the memorial that the architect intentionally included. One such example is the Winged Victory, standing on a globe and with a victor’s palm in one hand. Other examples are Constancy holding a compass pointing toward true north, and Courage holding a club and two eagles on the eastern and western sides representing the Empire. Near the bottom of the memorial is Queen Victoria herself, representing Motherhood together with Justice and Truth. The first picture is of the Albert Memorial, while the second is of the Victoria Memorial.