/the tate modern david cairns zani 5

On a recent visit to Tate Modern and in the absence of a current installation in the Turbine Hall, I thought I’d see what was on offer in terms of free exhibitions (I’m a firm believer that City art is for the people and shouldn’t come with a price). I was delighted to see some new exhibits, one in particular, “No Ghost Just a Shell”, featuring Japanese Manga character “Annlee” brought magically to life by contemporary artists Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno and sure to attract a new generation who can enjoy art old and new.

Moving through the wonderful world of Picasso, Man Ray, Magritte and Dali (disappointed they seem to have removed Dali’s ‘Lobster Telephone’, a favourite of mine), I chance upon German artist, Joseph Beuys and his two exhibits, ‘The Pack’ (1969) and ‘Lightning with stag in its glare’.
Joseph claims to have been a rear gunner on a Stuka dive bomber back in WW2, “shot down, thrown out of the cockpit, rescued by native tartar tribesmen and nurtured back to health swaddled in felt and fed fat, rancid cheese and milk which appeared to waken his inner artist”….that’s a very tall story from an artist with some very tall work.

/the tate modern david cairns zani 2.j

‘The Pack’ is actually an old VW Transporter camper van with a dozen old sleds trailing from behind and an expression of the freedom of post war Germany but with a nod to the past as he escapes his Nazi past whizzing by on a sledge, so we are told……I just wished the gaggle of art students next door would drop their pencils, rush in, start the bugger up, drive over the Millennium Bridge and off to Glastonbury, which I’m sure the artist would have totally approved of (it’s a split screen original and the “HoIy Grail” for any surfer or student). As for the sleds, how could Joseph have known in 2009 there wouldn’t be any snow left thanks to global warming?

The other exhibit however, ‘Lightning with stag in its glare’ I rather like.It’s basically a huge shard of metal, a suspended sculpture bearing down from the ceiling, representing a bolt of lightning (but then I do I like a bit of foundry work)…and it’s quite an imposing piece at that. But then as you look around at the other pieces surrounding this thunderbolt you are told that one of the items is, in fact, an ironing board, sprayed silver to represent a shard of lightning flash and my mind drifts away from the mighty Zeus striking down on us to Joseph wondering around the German equivalent of B &Q in 1969 looking for a new ironing board…presumably his iron still worked or he’d have painted it silver too, calling it a sliver of lightning and chucking it into the work too…worth a look though.

But if that leaves you suitably under whelmed, the Cubist room is right next door and I defy anyone not to enjoy it. Last but not least, the Soviet poster collection which has transcended from pure propaganda to a kind of pop art, my favourite was a poster declaring “Cleanse the party of all class enemies and hostile elements, rid us of the self serving, the ruling classes and the leaching parasites etc” – isn’t that what we all think of New Labour these days 70 years later?

Tate Modern is a wonderful institution and a Cathedral to the modern age. Long may it reign.

he tate modern david cairns zani 1.

© Words - David Cairns/ ZANI

About Us

ZANI was conceived in late 2008 and the fan base gradually grew by word of mouth. Key contributors came from those of the music, film and fashion industry and the voice of ZANI grew louder. So, when in 2013 investor, contributor and fan of ZANI Alan McGee* offered his support to help restyle and relaunch the site it was inevitable that traffic would increase dramatically and continues to grow. *Alan McGee co-founder of Creation Records and new label 359 Music..


What We Do

ZANI is an independent online magazine for readers interested in contemporary culture, covering Music, Film & TV, Sport, Art amongst other cultural topics. Relevant to modern times ZANI is a dynamic website and a flagship for creative movement and thinking wherever our readers live in the world.