As an artist I feel that is highly unlikely that my artwork will ever enter the Tate Modern. However, yesterday I managed to leave the Tate Modern with a work. No, I did not steal anything! I made the work during a workshop run by Collective Matter at the Tate Exchange.
I was leisurely making my way down the stairs from the 10th floor of the Switch House and, when I reached the 5th floor, I saw a table full of broken pieces of ceramics. I was drawn to it, instantly thinking that it was an artwork. As I approached the table, a lovely woman explained to me that it was not an artwork, and I could engage with it to create my own. I thought it was a very interesting opportunity for me to actually make a work at the Tate Modern.
From the contents of the table, I selected all the pieces that looked old and seemed to have been dug up from the banks of the river Thames. The pieces that I selected felt different and reminded me of my time at the Museu Paranaense in Curitiba, when I used to help the archaeology department recreate the vessels from the digs of the ancient city of Vila Rica do Espírito Santo, nowadays known as Fênix.
With all the old ceramic shards in hand, I chose my place at the working area and started to glue the pieces together three-dimensionally. As I glanced through the window overlooking the Thames, I started to feel a strange sensation of loss and misplacement. I looked at the old shards and began to make a vessel, something that could resemble a pot, a boat or even an egg. As soon as the vessel started to take shape, the official photographer of the event approached me and asked if I was an artist. I hesitated in answering him. I was just having fun and did not want to ‘blow my cover’ so to speak. He said that my work had an interesting look and feel. It reminded him of Japanese art. We got talking and eventually I confirmed that I was an artist doing a PhD in Art Practice at the University for the Creative Arts in Canterbury.
I was then presented with a questionnaire about my vessel. I filled it in and an official photo of the work was taken. I noticed that the photographer and the workshop assistant were interested in the title of my work and in what I wrote in the questionnaire.
I was then asked to meet the person who collected the old ceramic shards from the Thames. We talked about why I called the work Forcing the Pieces Together, a Post-Brexit Archaeological Artifact. I said that the pieces that I chose spoke to me in an interesting way and a political title was unavoidable. I said that the whole set-up of the workshop suggested Brexit, or an exercise in reconstruction. We exchanged business cards and I was given the option of taking the work home with me. This was my only chance to actually exit the Tate Modern with a unique piece of art. In a whimsical way, my work actually entered the Tate Modern –but left short after. Walking out with a work seemed like a reversal of the wheel of fortune, I guess. After exiting the building, I stopped at the South Bank for a couple of images by the Thames.