On 17 June 2016, the new Tate Modern will open to the public. A new ten-storey extension called the Switch House has been added to the old building. The Switch House now links with the old building on three levels.
At the top of the new Tate Modern extension, you can see the whole of London’s skyline.
London’s prettiest and ugliest buildings are at your feet: St Paul’s Cathedral, the Shard, the Barbican, St Mary’s Axe, The Walkie-Talkie… You can arguably have a better view of London from the balcony of the 10-storey Tate Modern extension than from the top of the Shard, the tallest building in the UK. The roof of the Tate Modern feels closer to the other buildings yet you can still admire the view, the clouds and the Thames river!
Oh, you can also get a premium view of a premium, recently built tower block of luxury apartments.
[This might look out of topic but…] Literally, in front of the new Tate Modern, stands a building of glazed, transparent flats. You can admire the colour of their art-deco sofas, count the number of chairs around their dining tables or even watch the kids jump in the living room (!).
Why on earth would someone pay thousands of pounds to live in a glazed cage called a flat where every of your movements will be seen by millions of strangers visiting the new neighbouring Tate Modern?
Unless…This neighbouring transparent residential block is part of the Tate Modern permanent exhibition, pushing the boundaries of modern art to the limit…. The glazed building might be a giant functional sculpture with a very philosophical meaning:
a) A denunciation of the lack of privacy in the modern’s world;
b) How humans live in a cage in London (even if they are multi-millionaires);
c) How the people living in these flats are observing us, museum visitors, behaving in a strangely excited way in front of blank white canvas.
Could that neighbouring luxury residential tower be part of the Tate Modern permanent exhibition?
It doesn’t matter.
There’s a lot of seriously exciting new art to see in the new Tate Modern. A very diverse mixture of art is exhibited, including some very moving sculptures and paintings by Louise Bourgeois, a city of Morocco made out of couscous, a striking collage of Los Angeles and an atypical artwork of Beirut. Beirut’s artwork is particularly interactive as it is a giant rubber map of the city which you are allowed and encouraged to step on.
The rubber map of the city is already starting to break on the opening day of the exhibition- but that’s the whole point of the piece of art, which is a metaphor of how Beirut kept on getting destroyed through its history-and rebuilt- earning its comparison to the phoenix.
As equally pleasing as the art itself, is the new building designed for this Tate Modern extension. It has a particular underground feel yet it is surprisingly and delightfully well lighted, allowing the sun to illuminate the circulation spaces AND- allowing some windows to be openable!!
Openable windows are becoming an exception in newly built buildings, but the openable windows in the new Tate Modern are a welcome initiative. Any person who visits the museum can open the windows. They give you the sense of control.
They give the sense the museum belongs to the people.
It does belong to the people. The new Tate modern is politically engaged and calling for a more diverse, tolerant world.
Do visit it.
You won’t be disappointed.