Thursday, February 01, 2007

London Trawling

After a few days of frustration in the capital I finally got to do a few of the things I wanted to do on Tuesday. I skedaddled down to Tate Britain to see State Britain, a full recreation of the Parliament Square protester Brian Haw's peace placards which were removed by police last year when the government introduced its ridiculous exclusion zone on free political demonstration around Parliament. Anyone wishing to protest within 1km of the buildings that house our free, representative parliamentary democracy now has to gain permission from the police beforehand under the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. The full recreation features over 600 items and it was extremely interesting.

I sneakily took this photo without using a flash, only to still be shouted at by an eagle-eyed member of staff.



One nice touch about the whole thing is that the 1km exclusion zone bisects the Tate Britain building. So if taken literally, about half of the installation is still breaking the law. If you look carefully at my photo you can see the black tape marking the 1km boundary from Parliament Square. Fight the power that be.

Interesting Interjection #1: While I was (for some reason) in Trafalgar Square, I noticed how small the Houses Of Parliament are in relation to Nelson's Column. [Photo of mini-HP]. Astonishing.

Interesting Interjection #2: I'd never actually been to the Barbican Estate before, so I found it quite astonishing when we walked right through it on Sunday night. It's massive (35 acres in fact). The way all the residential blocks are combined with civic space, a library, shops, arts centre and schools make it feel like a Communist masterplan. Every essential aspect of life self-contained within one place. And the architecture doesn't exactly do much to shatter the observation [my lovely night-time photo of the Barbican].

On Tueday night it was off to the south coast on another Boro jaunt. We played Portsmouth at Fratton Park, where we traditionally succumb to a limp defeat. But we ground out a 0-0 draw, which was quite dull but a very satisfactory result nonetheless.

Boro on the attack (although it looks like Portsmouth's Benjani Mwaruwari is trying his damndest to score an own-goal)


Fratton Park is a real old-fashioned little ground - like being transported back in time ten years to misty memories of the period before everyone built shiny new stadiums. The away end is particularly scruffy, lacking in facilities, and doesn't even have a roof. Luckily it was dry anyway. It was great though, everyone was allowed to stand for the whole match and my brothers both drank Bovril. That's what it's all about. I didn't want any Bovril because I was feeling a bit unsteady in the stomach that evening. But still - I was drinking Bovril in spirit.

Before I came home on Wednesday I had a little bit of time to kill and, seeing as I was on the South Bank, decided to pop into Tate Modern. Which makes this trip sound like some kind of Tatefest. I discovered that all the galleries were closed as part of the nationwide civil service strikes, meaning all the gallery attendants were lounging at home watching Jeremy Kyle. The Turbine Hall was still open, so I had a look at the slides that make up Carsten Höller's Test Site 2006 [photo of slides]. It's all about the spectacle of watching people sliding, and the 'inner spectacle' of actually sliding for yourself and experiencing a state of delight and anxiety simultaneously. I didn't have a go though - I'm already well accustomed to feeling delight and anxiety simultaneously.

As I left Tate Modern I took this photo, which I quite like.



I couldn't help but notice that it looked as if the building's chimney had risen and pierced the sky, smashing the soft white cloud into shards. Symbolising humankind's running battle with a divine being, represented by this man-made former power station as it competes with, and smashes through, the ceiling that has suppressed it. And now, converted to an art space, it symbolises art's triumph over limitations. Innovation's defeat of dogma. Individual expression overcoming God-fearing rigidity. I felt alive - truly liberated, and laid myself open to my inner hero as it burst forth from within, accompanied by my silently-epxressed wails of pure, wanton existence.

Then I got on the train and went home.

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