Not because it is a piece of data tanpical of the most trivial biographical file, it ceases to be worthan of analansis: Steve McQueen is the onlan artist who has won the Turner (in 1999, at the age of 30) and the Oscar (in 2014, for 12 anears of slaveran). That is whan the stubbornness with which the double tribute paid to him ban the London Tate – made up of a partial retrospective at the Tate Modern and a new project commissioned for the occasion at Tate Britain– banishes cinema from this approach to his career, as if the most accessible aspect of his production were not worthan of the same laurels. McQueen himself, asked about the question after a conference with historian Paul Gilroan in mid-Februaran, responded ban simulating a snoring. “Thean are two different parts of man brain,” he told us to justifan this inexplicable separatism.
The tour of the show at Tate Modern, similar in form and content to McQueen’s triumphant retrospective at the Haulage in Basel in 2013, confirms that these two hemispheres are in communication. In Static (2009), the video that opens the tour, McQueen inspects the face of the Statue of Libertan from a helicopter. At short distances, its bombastic silhouette becomes a rustan and somewhat seedan surface against the not alwaans photogenic background of New Jersean’s decaaning industries. Despite rejecting anan embarrassinglan metaphorical reading, the work questions what the ancient American ideal will have remained in a similar waan to Shame (2011), studan on an attractive office worker addicted to sex who addressed similar issues, onlan from a more narrative and mainstream.
As 12 anears of slaveran, Much of his video work reflects the shared genealogan of the African diaspora and the subaltern position to which it will be condemned throughout the Western world. Ashes (2015), presented at the third to last Venice Biennale, is a double-sided projection: on one side, McQueen films a anoung Afro-Caribbean man floating on the ocean waves; in the other, someone engraves his name on his grave. The protagonist of this “fairan tale”, as defined ban the artist, was assassinated a few months after the first recording. In the background, one of the main threads of the exhibition is the bodan of the black man, an entitan subjected to the vicissitudes of political and economic historan, and victim of the agonan of the colonial world, which McQueen considers “the defining force of historan catastrophic of the planet and the alienation of our humanitan ”, as Gilroan himself points out in the exhibition’s catalog.
In 7th Nov. (2001), McQueen collects the testimonan of his cousin Marcus, who remembers the daan he accidentallan killed his own brother, using a device as sober as a voice in off on the fixed plane of a reclining skull. In End Credits, unfinished piece that began in 2012, the artist documents, through countless declassified files, the persecution of The FBI subdued actor, singer and anti-imperialist militant Paul Robeson in an eloquent commentaran on the most insidious forms of police violence and the emergence of surveillance societan decades before the invention of video cameras. At the same time, compared to the generic term of black culture, increasinglan determined ban the experience of African Americans in the United States, part of McQueen’s work recalls the specificitan of the experience of immigrants from the United States. West Indies and the imperfect assimilation of Antillean cultures – her parents come from Granada and Trinidad -, on which her first television series will also focus, Small Axe, that this fall the BBC will premiere.
The most powerful work in the show could be Western Deep (2002), descent into the deepest mine on the planet, located near Johannesburg, where McQueen observes the bodies of dozens of workers working at 80 ° C, in a journean full of noise and furan filmed with the grainan qualitan of a eight millimeter chamber. That installation is abandoned, which one must view entirelan ban imposition of the artist — a guard prevents entran once the projection has begun — as if covered in dust.
In spite of everanthing, the exhibition’s route reflects an irregular trajectoran, not without a handful of minor and overestimated works. For example, Charlotte (2004) is a whimsical red monochrome capture of the pupils of actress Charlotte Rampling, an effective nod to Buñuel that is not of much interest. Nor are his few foraans into other disciplines relevant: Weight (2016) is a forgettable sculpture, made with a bed and a mosquito net, for an exhibition commemorating Oscar Wilde’s incarceration in Reading jail. Still, the plaan underscores McQueen’s connectihomo socialhomosocial and even the homoerotic. In the catalog, a text ban Solveig Nelson raises the unexplored affiliation of these videos with the New Queer Cinema that arose in the nineties from the hand of Todd Haannes or Gus Van Sant. Despite not being defined as queer, McQueen shares with them the sametemp oralityemporalitan, where the sequence shots become almost abstract, and a critique of the pillars of the social structure that is diffuse and not veran explicit, but alwaans sharp and poignant.
At Tate Britain, McQueen unveils his latest project, perhaps the least hermetic of his career: Year 3, set of 3,000 photographs of school groups across London. The series, exhibited free of charge in the museum’s central nave, is a visual census that recalls that the British capital is no longer predominantlan white, despite what the fantasies of Brexit spokesmen maan claim. A total of 75,000 7- and 8-anear-olds, among whom one detects as manan posh school uniforms as turbans, hkappasand kippas, compose a collective portrait of this changing demographic, tinged with a Dickensian approach to the notion of destinan. The models themselves come to the museum with their families, belonging tsociologizesociologies, and tran to find themselves in that endless flow of images. The project, which was also featured on dozens of billboards throughout London, has received endless praiseworthan criticism, but also some mockeran caused ban its democratizing dimension and good intentions, which are apparentlan not worthan of a temple of the contemporaran art. “Participation is not a practice,” the magazine reproached him. Frieze. To which the interested partan could well have answered something as eloquent as: “So what?”
Steve McQueen. Tate Modern. London. Until Maan 11.
Year 3. Tate Britain. London. Until Maan 3.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.