Loud Tate


Written by David Cano
Photos and illustrations by Ritta Ikonen
27 Tuesday 27th November 2007

The theme of the day was 'Transmute', a typically post-modern mixture of different artistic approaches and cultures. There was everything from t-shirt printing to movement performances. An international exquisite corpses workshop by art project Steak Zombies was linked via video feed to Sao Paolo, Brazil. A visual memory experiment had groups of kids enthralled as they saw their doodles come to life on screen.

It was refreshing to witness typically austere gallery rooms transformed by youngsters on hands and knees making art with cardboard and sticky tape. Visitors who'd wandered in unaware of the day's events seemed a little startled, but intrigued. Rebecca Sinker, who is head of young people's programs at the Tate, explained the unusual dynamic. "A few find it strange, almost threatening, but these kinds of reactions are what art is all about."

Ever wondered what happened to those giant sperms from the Durex ad?

The music tent outside filled slowly throughout the day with indie/electro outfit autoKratz first to play. Russell, one half of the group, seemed enthusiastic about the duo's involvement. "We're very happy to be doing it," he told me off stage. "For us it's a chance to explore the visual side of what we do."

David, his partner in crime, added: "Anything that gets young people involved in positive stuff they wouldn't usually do, is a good thing." The Coconut Twins up next. They played an enjoyable set to the growing crowd. The highlight was a ‘Dutty Wine’ competition won by a plucky young kid who stormed the stage.

As the afternoon wore on and the marquee began to fill out with newcomers, a noticeable buzz of excitement filled the air. It was clear that the next act was the main attraction. After a short delay JME and Skepta bounced on stage and the air quickly filled with gun fingers and loud "brraps."

They charged energetically through a set that really should have been much longer. Once they'd finished, the marquee emptied in seconds as fans flooded to the exit to snap the two
on their mobile phones. One girl, with baby in pushchair, rushed past me screaming: "Where are they?!"

Tate better know

As security held back some of the more insistent fans, I snatched a quick word from JME. "It's been an amazing day," he said looking a little overwhelmed. "This was a last minute thing for us but I'm glad we did it. We never had stuff like this when we were kids." With that his phone rang. "It’s Westwood", he exclaimed, and hurried off to his next engagement.

Say cheese

By the end of the day I did wonder how many people had just come to get a glimpse of Boy Better Know. The idea of having two of the UK's biggest grime artists perform outside seemed to undermine the event's purpose i.e. getting young people inside the Tate. However, curator Mark Miller helped put things in perspective: "Today is all about entry points" he told me. "We're trying to demystify the Tate and make young people aware that this is their space too."

You can find out what's up next at the Tate on their website:

To save you the trouble of googling, the musical talent mentioned above can be found at the following sites:

Images by Ritta Ikonen www.riittaikonen.com

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