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The Switch House twists world cultures

Contemporary Art | An old brick power station renovated and redesigned by Herzog & De Meuron on a modest budget, the 2000 opening of Tate Modern was part of a wider political campaign to rehabilitate London’s southern districts. Conceived by the same Bale-based firm on a 358 million euros budget, its 2016 expansion embodies the new elements at play in the globalized art world against the backdrop of a more inclusive rereading of art history.

Switch House © Photo Iwan Baan
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Switch House
© Photo Iwan Baan

While formally linked to the old building through the use of brick, the new wing boasts a timeless style, with rotating perspectives evoking the tower, the pyramid, the mastaba, the cathedral, and the minaret in the collective subconscious. In the brick interstices, natural light filters in a back-and-forth dialogue between the interior and exterior of the building, according to the day/night cycle : an immemorial stylization that represents a condensation of the world’s complexity and London’s unique multicultural spirit.
From a museographical point of view, the exhibition rooms are shaped by a new floor plan suggesting an intuitive stroll from one loop to the next following a thematic, group-based hang. These “collective displays” integrate a nonhierarchical chronology presenting key views and perspectives of the 21St century that give equal weight to female artists, transmedia and transcultural practices : photography, performance, contemporary African, Indian and South American art… Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota and Tate Modern director Frances Morris orchestrate this mixing of generations, countries and cultures.
This new writing of art history began in the early 2010’s through major Western events such as Victoria Noorthoorn’s 2011 Lyon Biennale and Massimiliano Gioni’s 2013 Venice Biennale as well as the 2013 Pompidou Center’s hang “Modernités plurielles” under the direction of Catherine Grenier… up to the 2016 Jean-Hubert Martin conceived exhibition “Carambolages” at the Grand Palais.

Virginie Bertrand / Nina Rodrigues-Ely
Publié le 05/09/2016
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Switch House © Photo Iwan Baan The new Tate Modern © Hayes Davidson and Herzog & de Meuron

Switch House
© Photo Iwan Baan

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