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Every three years, Tate Britain holds a Triennial exhibition celebrating current trends in British art. The latest opened on Tuesday and presents new or recent works by 28 British and international artists. It is curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, Gulbenkian Curator of Contemporary Art and the founding director of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. See previous post for a video of Bourriaud explaining the exhibition’s title, “Altermodern“.

Four hours ago I walked, hood up against the freezing sleet, to Tate Britain to see if it would help me understand the concept of altermodernism. I spent two hours there. I am none the wiser.

Here are some photographs from the exhibition (taken covertly, whenever the gallery stewards looked the other way):

The best bits of the exhibition are:

  1. Ruth Ewan’s ‘Squeezebox Jukebox’ (2009), a massive accordion. I got to Tate Britain just as two volunteers began their daily task of playing songs on it (2pm).
  2. Nathaniel Mellor’s ‘Giantbum’ (2009), a video installation in which a group of actors play explorers, lost inside a giant’s bowels and forced to eat excrement. Round the corner, three talking animatronic heads greet you with crazy eyes (see slideshow above).
  3. A communal beanbag in the first gallery, big enough for a dozen people to slouch on.
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Tate Britain’s fourth triennial, Altermodern: Tate Triennial 2009, opens tomorrow in London. Curator Nicolas Bourriaud coined the phrase altermodern (alternative+modern) to describe a new, global approach to art. He says modernism and postmodernism were Western movements, for the most part, and today’s artists are more aware of their place in a globalised culture. The triennial covers four themes: Altermodern; Exiles; Travelling and Borders.

In this video, Bourriaud introduces himself and the thinking behind the exhibition:

See also:

“London Art: Altermodernism’s purveyors claim it will lead to a New World Order” by Jessica Holland in the londonpaper.

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