The Tanks. Get drained.

One of the best running routes in London in my opinion is down the South Bank.  You can jog for miles, it’s flat and dodging the pedestrians is a hoot.  It passes landmarks like The Eye, The Houses of Parliament and of course The Wobbly Bridge.

With an hour to spare in London the other day I crossed the Wobbly Bridge (now disappointingly called The Millennium Bridge and no, it doesn’t wobble any more either…) and dropped into Tate Modern. I love London for its free attractions and don’t do the Tate often enough; it never disappoints.

The Tanks is basically the oil storage area for what was the power station. It’s been adapted as a showroom for some pretty crazy multimedia installations and houses the new foundations for a massive new development that will be built on top.

Bare concrete, smoke, darkness, flashing lights and weird sounds make for something close to an out of body experience. Prone or somnambulant visitors engage with each spectacle not so much with curiosity as with caution. This attraction is definitely not for epileptics or claustrophobes. But for artists? Probably yes. You can’t judge any of the exhibits with confidence because your view won’t count but you can tweet about them (#thetanks).

As if to illustrate the point, one visitor in front of me stopped before a closed black door in front of which sat an attendant. He stopped and leaned towards it as if to judge it aesthetically, asking if this was an exhibit.  “No” said the attendant. “It’s the Fire Exit”.  See what I mean? One man’s fire exit is another man’s modern art installation. Gotcha.

The ideas that populate The Tanks are unquestionably creative but also challenging. They emerge from minds so steeped (warped?) with creativity us mere mortals can only gaze on them, helpless, while our emotions are either charged or drained.

Perhaps that’s why they call it the Tanks.


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