Sunday, 6 June 2010
From 14-16 May, Tate Modern celebrated its 10 year anniversary with a free arts festival for all. A highlight of the festival was No Soul for Sale - A Festival of Independents, which staged a takeover of the Turbine Hall for the entire weekend.
No Soul for Sale is the brainchild of artist Maurizio Cattelan and curators Cecilia Alem and Massimiliano Gioni. Described as "neither a fair nor an exhibition" but instead as "a convention of individuals and groups who have devoted their energies to keeping art alive... a spontaneous celebration of the independent forces that live outside the market and that animate contemporary art", No Soul for Sale brought together independent arts spaces, non-profit arts organisations and collectives from all over the world for an "exercise in coexistence". The floor was marked out in dotted red lines in a fashion reminiscent of the film Dogville, with the various organisations each taking their own section, resulting in what Tate curator Vincente Tolodi described as a "village of art". All this was accompanied by various events, performances and anarchic happenings of all kinds, with artists like Martin Creed and Cosey Fanni Tutti included in the line-up.
Of course, the extent to which any event can really be considered truly anarchic or indeed independent when it takes place at the Tate Modern, that bastion of the institution of art, is certainly up for debate. But whatever your views on this, it was impossible not to delight in the transformation of this vast temple to industrial minimalism into a riot of gleeful creative chaos, where coloured paper and smatterings of sequins were strewn recklessly across the floor, and children ran amok between haphazard ranks of tottering, lo-fi installations, whilst artists, curators, and visitors alike set up camp anywhere on the floor, equipped with sketchpads, laptops and coffee cups - the absolute antithesis of the untouchable, glossy 'white cube' spaces of the commercial arts market.
I was kicking myself for not having brought a camera, but I did snap a few pictures on my phone, including capturing my favourite amongst the No Soul for Sale installations - The Museum of Everything's pleasingly kooky Exhibition 2, displaying over 1000 works on paper and canvases by "unknown, untrained, unintentional and unexhibited" artists from across the British Isles. Works could even be submitted during the festival itself, resulting in a continually evolving exhibition presented in a characteristically exuberant style.