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Five Angels for the Millennium

We went to the Tate on Saturday to see two excellent installations. The ongoing Weather project, as I’m sure you know, is that huge sun in the turbine hall. There’s something utterly wonderful and childish about lying on the floor of the hall looking up at the mirrored ceiling reflecting yourself and everyone else back at you. We spent a diverting half hour or so watching other people messing about and generally acting like children so they could watch themselves in the mirrors. Most were content to make shapes, (and personally I felt Sally and I were just an L and P short of a Beatles) but my favourites were the two guys in front of us pretending to run round in circles–and over hurdles–by lying on their sides and making leg movements. Perhaps you had to be there.

Even more enthralling was Bill Viola’s Five Angels for the Millennium (note comedy misspelling of “Millenium” [sic] on Tate website). It’s a video installation in a pitch black room showing five slow-motion reverse footage videos of figures diving into (or out of) water. I was dragged into the room by people who had been there before without really knowing what it was. Stumbling into the dark room, Sally I had to turn round and leave again, but on the second attempt we managed to shuffle in and find a spot to sit down and watch. The five video sequences, backed with ambient sounds that culminate in the sound of the water breaking when the figure finally moves through it, are utterly mesmerising. Just as you think nothing is going to happen, the figure appears from the water, arms outstreached.

And, as your eyes adjust to the darkness in the room, and you begin to see everything around you clearly, there is the added attraction of being able to mock the misfortune of others by watching newcomers shuffle cautiously into the room and each other (as you did earlier).

4 thoughts on “”

  1. We’re going to the Tate this upcoming Saturday, so I’ll look out for those.

    I remember there being much debate about how to spell “millennium” around 1998. The informed single-n people can make a strong case. Here‘s one article about it.

  2. Yes. It did occur to me that this might be a deliberate misspelling in the name of the work itself. I can’t remember whether the board outside the room has it spelt correctly or not (when I was reading it, my eyes were struggling to adjust to the bright lights outside, so spelling accuracy wasn’t uppermost in my mind), so maybe you could check it when you go.

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