What Am I Looking At? Disrupting the gallery space

Late at Tate is a free after hours event at Tate Britain giving visitors the opportunity to explore the gallery in a new way, with a backdrop of music, performance, workshops and installations. The Spring series across April, May and June, was co-programmed by Tate Collective London, collaborating with Circuit artist Jenny Moore. Jessye Bloomfield, a member of Tate Collective London and Circulate has filmed, documented and evaluated Tate Collective’s collaboration with artist Jenny Moore over the series.

For the Spring series of Late at Tate’s each month had it’s own conceptual theme, which we responded to in addition to our aims. April’s theme Question allowed us to really play around with breaking some of the perceived boundaries in gallery the space and question conventional gallery etiquette. Our theme in May was Disrupt so it was clear we needed to build on the performances we’d already staged and add a new layer of intervention to help engage a new, young audience. We decided sound would be a great way of pushing through the barrier of silence within galleries, so chose to work with The REC, an experimental choir based in London.

While April’s performances were focused in smaller spaces, this time round we staged a piece through one of the largest spaces at Tate Britain; the Duveen gallery which runs through the entire ground floor. Performers stood amongst Christina Mackie’s ambient sculptures swaying rhythmically before transforming their movements into crawling across the huge space all the way across and down the main staircase.

We worked with some of the same young dancers from the Next Choreography programme at Siobhan Davies Dance again. They worked as a trio, moving around the space together and responded directly to the works of art on display. Sometimes their responses were playful as they moved around mimicking paintings and sculptures, as well as beautifully reflecting more abstract works of art using movements of brushstrokes or curves of sculptures to inform their physical movement.

Crawlers May 2015 c Jessye Bloomfield

We performed again using again weather balloons in one of the historic galleries, this time with The REC choir, who created mechanical and obscure sounds that tied in with the rhythmic sounds of the performer’s breathing and the bicycle pump noises. The addition of sound added a new layer of texture to the performances and we clearly sensed a difference in our audience.

Working with a performance artist, a dance company and a choir has been an exciting collaboration that merges movement and sound. Sound helped to focus both the performers and the audience and we felt that it was crucial to work with these two mediums together next month.

During our feedback sessions we all agreed how exciting, dynamic and inspiring it has been to bring together groups working within the different mediums of performance art, dance and sound. We felt that a key aim for June’s event is to connect the collaborators and their methods even further to strengthen the performances.

We brainstormed what we felt were the biggest barriers within arts institutions for young visitors and realised that the space itself can often carry a hostile reputation. Despite working at Tate and being familiar with the gallery space, we all admitted that this sense of intimidation still sometimes affects us. When we programme Tate Collective events we normally use artworks as starting points for inspiration, but using space as a starting point has opened up a new method of working for us. We’ve come to realise the importance of dissolving social script within the gallery space so that visitors can feel uninhibited to enjoy and engage with the collection on its walls.

By Jessye Bloomfield