Part 12: France and England

January 1st. New Year’s Day.

We decided to check out the Tate Modern since it had been years since I’ve been there. And they were open on New Year’s Day. (British Museum was not). We walked over the Millennium Bridge and got our amazing views of London. (I counted over 50 cranes around me – I know I missed some!).

The Tate Modern has special meaning for me. When it was in it’s old building, I remember that it was where I realized my love for Rene Magritte, my favorite artist to this day. I had also liked how they grouped their works, not chronologically like many museums, but by theme, like self-portraits, still lives, etc. It had been so long since we had been there that the themes had completely changed. “Making Traces” and “Citizens and States” were among the new themes. It was tricky because a lot of the art that I associate with the Tate was not up. The Magrittes seemed to have been hidden from view (Appropriate I suppose). So much of the art wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, to be completely honest.

But I did discover I really liked Rebecca Horn. I hadn’t really been aware of her work before. They have photos and pieces of costumes that she had used in her performances. Something resonated with me. I appreciated her contemplation of the body and health.

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Rebecca Horn

The “Citizens & State” section also appealed with me since politics in art has always been an interest of mine. They had some 1970s Chilean books and photographs which made me very happy. I’m fascinated by the 1970s socialist government of Salvador Allende and the coup that followed him.

I loved loved loved Susan Williamson’s A Few South Africans series. It was a series of prints, each one about a different South African woman fighting for justice and equality in their own way. It crossed class and racial categories, telling the stories of these incredible women who tried to make South Africa a better place for women, workers, indigenous peoples, etc. Each print of a woman kinda made her look like  a saint. I also liked the photography of Simryn Gill who took photos of people but with giant fruit on their head. The work is a commentary of the exoticization of people in Asia (possibly specifically Singapore).

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Virginia Mngoma by Susan Williamson

Virginia Mngoma by Sue Williamson

Virginia Mngoma by Sue Williamson

We decided to skip the Calder exhibition, which was simply too expensive. I love Calder, especially his mobiles. I did see an exhibition of his work here at the MCA so I decided that I could stomach skipping this one. 18 pounds is a lot for an exhibition. But the primary collection of the Tate is free.

We decided to do a London Walks tour. We had come across this company a few years (first through its sister company in Paris) and loved it. They were running a Sherlock tour on New Year’s Day so naturally we took it. It was really lovely walking around the West End talking about the places where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would frequent and the places where action happened in the books. I loved mapping the real with the fictional on the actual streets of London. We even had a brief mention of Chicago’s Essanay studios on the tour. A Sherlock Holmes film there was recently found (and recently screened). Hometown pride!

Then we went off to the Winter Wonderland, a yearly tradition for us. In St. James’s Park (I think), there is a carnival for the winter holiday. We like going because they have fantastic rides. Unfortunately, our favorite ride that has you spin round and round was closed. So we had to investigate other rides instead. We settled on two rides. The first was honestly one of the scariest rides I’ve ever been on. It was like the one that spun us upside down but there was three different ways we were spun. You really had no idea where you were going to go next on the ride. I had to close my eyes since it was so terrifying!

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Ride of Doom

The next ride was a less scary! It was a bit like an oversized tire swing. We were only upside down at the very end. I love seeing London from upside down!

Afterwards, we decided to get an early dinner and watch the new Sherlock at our hotel. It was a lovely first day of 2016!
That’s all for now!

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