Published on Culture 24
Cold Corners by Eva Rothschild, Duveens’ Commission, Tate Britain, London, until November 29 2009
Sometimes less space can be more. Tate Britain’s Duveens Galleries aren’t quite as large as the Turbine Hall just down the river at Tate Modern, but the neo-classical surroundings offer quite different possibilities.
When commissioned to fill the area in 2007, Mark Wallinger reconstructed Brian Haw’s peace camp from Parliament Square. A year later, Martin Creed orchestrated sprinters to complete 70m dashes in the name of art.
Now it’s the turn of Eva Rothschild, and the first sculpture stretches the length of these two imposing halls. It’s black, just 76mm wide and minimalist. Chances are it would have got lost within the cavernous belly of London’s other Tate building.
The late 19th century galleries also offer more to play with. Rothschild’s installation wraps itself round pillars and climbs through the gaps left by architrave and arch. It’s all jagged edges and gloss finish, so the contrast with the smooth, sandy stone walls could hardly be more pronounced.
These 26 interconnected triangles of aluminum box tubing are the Dublin-born artist’s first large scale work. She describes the feat of engineering as “a confused and anxious alternate architecture within the galleries.”
The result is a structure which can hardly be taken in at a single glance. It requires you to walk the length of the building, and in places invites you to cross through to the other side. The piece clangs when an unsuspecting visitor trips over it, which happens from time to time. You only wonder how anyone could miss it.