BP Spotlight: Source was curated by Tate Collective London at Tate Britain, and ran from April to September 2014. BP Spotlights are series of regularly changing collection displays which explore the Tate collection and its variety of works, media, themes and concepts. These displays offer more depth on specific artists or themes or highlight new research, drawing on the expertise of external specialists as well as Tate curators.
Source was the first display curated by young people at Tate Britain. Source focused on the mass consumption of visual culture, representation and the re-appropriation of image through digital and social media.
Using a selection of 44 artworks from Tate’s Collection of British art, the display questioned who it is that owns images online; the platform, the user or the creator? And does it matter in the context of the internet? Source intended to capture and articulate the current structures and frameworks of our consumption and navigation of visual culture, both digitally and analogue, with artworks at the core.
Through a series of meetings, both formal and informal, with departments across Tate, including curatorial, conservation, Tate Media, time-based media, design, marketing, and AV, Tate Collective London members where able to learn and understand the technical and logistic processes related to producing a display. Additional to this complexity was the fundamental aim to facilitate young people’s participation, interpretation and experience with a constructed immersive space.
There were questions and criteria Tate Collective London needed to re-consider and revisit numerous times throughout the many months of the collective curatorial process, such as: what is a ‘different’ display? What does a display curated by young people and for young people look like? Analogue vs. digital?
Tate Collective took an instinctive, cultural and aesthetic curatorial approach to identify thematic, concept and process to achieve their desired outcomes. The group worked with a shared ethos and collaboratively selected art works through an elongated but valuable learning process. The criteria for the selection of works were characterized by aesthetic; culturally relevant or works that echoed what was ‘trending’ via Tumblr, Instagram and other social media platforms.
The works on display covered historic modern and contemporary time periods, as well as presenting a diverse range of content and cultural references and artistic media across a wide range of formats. The selection of artworks shifted from the aesthetic to the political, from style to questions of representations and intellectual property. Artist included Jason Evans, Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, Sarah Lucas, Ian Hamilton Finlay, William Edward Frost, Peter Phillips, and Allen Jones.
A key element of the display concept was that the online was represented in the physical ‘offline’ gallery space in a way that enabled exchange with audience. This was facilitated through the Open Call, where the public were invited monthly to submit their own works in response to a theme taken from the artworks. A curated selection of these works was showcased within the display on digital screens integrated amongst the physical collection works, generating a continued visual dialogue through image based responses. These methods of establishing clear lines which connect the inside to the outside, or vice versa, are moving towards shifting the centre and blurring the edges of dominant languages of visual culture.
Interpretation, sound and digital installation commissions created an immersive space to generate participation and contribution from the wider public. The sound installation, by Tanya Boyarkina and digital installation by Put Turn Pull presented an opportunity for Tate Collective members to produce work that developed their professional practice.
The interpretation for the space included a timeline, list of works, and a glossary of terms of words phrases used within the digital domain. The display was complemented with the 6×6 events programme, a series of six monthly workshops, one for each month of the display. These explored six themes taken from the artworks, explored by contemporary artists and cultural producers: Streetstyle with Nina Manandahar/What We Wore; Pattern/Graphics/Print with Peckham Print Studio; Order & Compulsion with Austin Radcliffe/Things Organized Neatly; Text/Narrative/Image with Inua Ellams; Texture & Collage with Luca Mainini and Street Photography with Accent Magazine. Each of these invited contributors also produced a specially commissioned artwork for a monthly themed collective edition of the display brochure.
With the rise of social and digital media, the mass consumption of visual culture has transformed how we connect with society and representation. These new methods of access to image online, via online platforms, present new opportunities and challenges for visual makers, curators and creatives. Tate Collective aimed to use the Tate Collection of British art as a way to explore these themes, and establish a connection with audiences, perhaps marking a significant moment in the way we view or consider the gallery space, technology and visual culture.