Gesamtkunstwerk with Evelien
Following the visit to the Tate Modern. There are two exhibitions celebrating famous women in modern art. Sonia Delaunay and Agnes Martin. The permanent collections are on the second and fourth floors. In the ‘Poetry and Dream’ exhibition, you are a small part between the public and the old masters, between cubism and surrealism. There is also a room with images by the Dutch photographer Rineke Dijkstra. Large photographs of adolescents in vulnerable poses. Bare-faced girls in swimming costumes, nude women with babies, keenly focused with great sensitivity. Rineke and Marlene Dumas are the most subsidised Dutch artists. On the other half of the second floor is the ‘Making Traces’ display. There is a small gallery large etched drawings and paintings. German-born Rebecca Horn (1944) creates installations. She had a mask of leather straps with about eighteen pencils attached in front of her face which she used to create her hand-made drawings and paintings. There is also a selection of colourful works by Laura Owens. We go up to the fourth floor to see the ‘Structure and Clarity’ exhibition. A galvanized ventilation shaft appears to have been taken straight out of a hardware store. It makes me first think of the concrete window in the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam. I wonder if this is Isa Genzken. But it is not. This is also by a German, Charlotte Posenenske (1930-1985). I see something naïve in the fascination of the women of a century ago, in front of elements or materials from the building. As if women once could not, or did not want to know anything about the building. It struck me that women in the Tate modern are the heroines. Would that have anything to do with what I read in the exhibitions on the second floor, that the curators are all women? We stare at relief works by the British artist Mary Martin (1907-1969). Finally we come to the ‘Energy and Process’ exhibition. Strong works by Jacqueline Humphries (1960) are in the 'Painting after Technology’ gallery. There is a car engine, plastered with blue glass. It is an experiment. The metal, four cylinder engine has all kinds of components, hoses and a flywheel, covered with copper sulphate. Rhyhorns nearby make use of chemical processes in order to show growth and change, the tension between the industrial and the organic. Another engine suddenly pops into my memory: in Paris, the Pompidou Centre, Jeff Koons, a white eight-cylinder with a blue ball on it. No, that is not everything, there was a letter box in the middle. There were also exhaust pipes , air filter and carburettor and valve covers. These women are experimenting with a lot of materials. British artist Rothshild Eva (1971) has an intriguing angular black and shiny surface of plastic and wood with fibreglass, and the American artist Rachel Harrison (1966) has been wrestling with styrofoam, cement, acrylic paint, and a shoe. There is also a video of a woman walking rather strangely on a large sheet of paper. She paints winding roads with her bare feet and thick globs of paint. Then we arrive in a large gallery. Beside some bundles of willow branches is a wooden rack draped with different shades of blue wool. That is drying there, I think unconsciously. ”Look,” I say, ”Evelien is also exhibiting here.” But the work is by the Greek artist Jannis Kounellis (1936). It's Arte Povera, which are installatiions of simple materials. Evelien often works with wool, so I of course think of her. If she cards, spins, twists and dyes the wool herself, then it should always be left to dry for a while. The plucked raw wool hangs untidily on a wooden rack, just like here, or if the weather is nice, on a sheet in the garden. This will probably be dry now, it was made in 1968. I remember that women have been increasingly represented in art since the nineteenth century. The names that everyone knows from art history books; Käthe Kollwitz, Camille Claudel and Frida Kahlo can be added to hundreds of others. Just go to the Tate Modern. Or wait a minute, I have an idea.
Photo 2: Roger Rihorns, no title 2006, Tate Modern London
Photo 3: Jannis Kounellis, no title 1968, Tate Modern London