Upcoming Events

Bankside, Britain, Global, Public; the Turbine Hall Series in Tate Modern

Research Lunch – Grace Thompson

  • 5 February 2021
  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm
  • Online Event

This paper considers the concept of the British public as navigated by the works of the Turbine Hall series. The series, which has run annually since the opening of Tate Modern in 2000, consists of twenty large-scale works, uniquely commissioned for the space, and executed by a range of international artists. The series represents both a new, global trend in British art, and one of the most visited and emblematic cultural events in the UK. A departure from what had defined British art in the previous decade, the works in the series have displayed a synchronization with European and American trends within the ‘social turn’. However, the image-friendly, high-budget, non-lasting and corporate-funded works are in many ways incurably complicit with the privatisation of culture and the spectacularisation of experience. Monumental in scale, the series boasts soaring visitor numbers and a great deal of media attention. The series knowingly engages with the tensions and contradictions of public space that are embedded in the post-industrial Turbine Hall. In particular, artists have responded to an architecture which facilitates surveillance, questioning the distinction between observer and observed.

In seeking to understand the formulations of publics which are in play, this paper contextualises the series in regard to three competing arenas that were operating around the millennium, all of which were generating renewed interest in definitions of ‘public’; firstly, the widespread theoretical re-engagement with ideas of site-specificity; secondly the birth of the international mega-museums and the attendant fostering of a globalised art community; and lastly the New Labour government’s imperatives to promote a civic-enabling culture. Working through wider accounts by the likes of Claire Bishop and Hal Foster, this paper seeks to establish the specifics of the Turbine Hall series, and ask how its particular tensions can illuminate contemporary notions of the British public.

Guidelines for users attending Zoom webinars

Before the webinar

● Please download Zoom software in advance.

● Please register to attend the Research Lunch webinar through Eventbrite.

● We will share the link to the Zoom webinar with you in advance by email through Eventbrite.

● If you require closed captioning during this event, please get in touch at least two weeks before the event date.

During the event

● Paul Mellon Centre staff hosting the event will employ the appropriate security features to help ensure that events and meetings operate safely.

● There will be a waiting room feature that allows the host to control when all participants join the meeting.

● You will be automatically muted when you join the webinar and can only communicate verbally if the host unmutes you.

● The talk will last for 30–40 minutes and will be followed by a Q&A where the chair will prompt discussion.

● Use the Q&A box to ask/write your questions after the talk.

● You can also use the virtual raise hand button if you have a question/comment to make by audio.

● Use the chat box to make comments.

● If you are experiencing any technical problems, please notify Ella Fleming (events manager) or Danielle Convey (events assistant) directly using the chat box function. Alternatively you can email them via events@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk.

● The Paul Mellon Centre will not take photographs of this event and participants are requested likewise not to do so.

● This session will not be recorded.

● Any offensive behaviour will not be tolerated and attendees can be removed from the webinar by the host.

GDPR

The Paul Mellon Centre is aware of its obligations under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and is committed to processing your data securely and transparently.

For more information on how the Centre processes personal information see our privacy policy. https://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/about/privacy-policy

For more information on Zoom’s compliance with EU GDPR see: https://zoom.us/gdpr.

 

Image: Turbine Hall, Tate Modern. Digital image courtesy of Tate (All rights reserved)

About the speaker

  • Grace Thompson headshot

    Grace Thompson is in the third year of a PhD in the Art History department at the University of East Anglia, supported by the CHASE AHRC DTP. She has previously studied at the University of Oxford and the University of Kent. Her research interests concern the relationship between art, politics and the public sphere, in contemporary Britain and beyond. This talk is based on the introduction to her PhD project, which looks in detail at how contemporary issues of ‘publicness’ have been expressed in, or shaped by, first twenty years of the Turbine Hall series.