[NetBehaviour] Disrupting The Gaze: Art Intervention and the Tate Gallery.

marc garrett marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Apr 17 14:00:03 CEST 2013

Disrupting The Gaze: Art Intervention and the Tate Gallery.

By Marc garrett (PDF Download)

Printed in - Digimag Journal – Issue 74 / Winter 2013 “Uncertainty Reloaded”
Curated by: Roberta Buiani and Marco Mancuso. With contributions by: 
Franco Torriani, Ildiko Meny, Daphne Dragona, Marc Garrett, Maria 
Androulaki, Alessio Chierico, Henrique Roscoe, Markéta Dolejšová, Adam 
Zaretsky, Evelina Domnitch & Dmitri Gelfand, Renate Quehenberger


Disrupting the Gaze is written in three parts. The first chapter Art 
Intervention and the Tate Gallery investigates contemporary art 
intervention at the Tate Gallery. It includes artists, art groups and 
activists: Graham Harwood, Platform, Liberate Tate, IOCOSE, Tamiko 
Thiel, Mel Evans, Mark McGowan, Mark Wallinger, Damien Hirst and 
Britart. The second chapter The Power and the Gaze studies the history 
of the Tate Gallery, its connection with the Millbank Penetentiary and 
the “Panopticon", Jeremy Bentham’s design and concept for the prison. 
The third chapter explores different concepts of “the gaze” and includes 
feminist, societal and media art contexts. Together they form part of a 
larger study that looks at dissent in the context of contemporary art, 
technology and social change.

Each artist(s) featured in this chapter delivers his or her own 
particular unofficial and official mode of art intervention at the Tate 
Gallery. Whether these interventions concern economic, social or 
political conditions, they all connect in different ways. Less in their 
style or genre than as contemporary artistic practitioners exploring 
their own states of agency in a world where our public interfaces are as 
much a necessary place of creative engagement, as is the already 
accepted physical ‘inner’ sanctum of the gallery space. These artists’ 
and their artworks have become as equally significant (perhaps even 
more) than, the mainstream art establishment’s franchised celebrities.

In his vindication of those artists hidden away in places where the art 
establishment’s light rarely shines, Gregory Sholette observes that 
“when, the excluded are made visible, when they demand visibility, it is 
always ultimately a matter of politics and rethinking history.” 
(Sholette 2011) This draws upon a contemporary art culture and its 
audiences beyond the mainstream. These artistic discoveries and 
discourse arise from an independent art culture that is rarely reflected 
back to us. Instead, we receive more of the same, marketed franchises. 
The central, mainstream version of contemporary art has found its allies 
within a global and corporate culture, where business dictates art 
value. Meanwhile, a spirit of artistic emancipation thrives. It is self 
styled, self governed and liberated from the restrictive norms that 
dominate our mediated gaze.
We live in a world riddled with contradictions and confusing signals.

Our histories are assessed and reshuffled according to the interests of 
the powerful, and re-introduced as fact. We might fail to notice that 
there are so many bits missing. We accept what is given through sound 
bite forms of mediation and build our cultural foundations on these 
acquired assumptions and imagined guidelines. This paper studies how 
contemporary artists are challenging these defaults through their 
connected enactments and critical inquiries into the existing 
conditions. It highlights a continual dialogue involving a historical 
struggle between what is held up as legitimate art and knowledge, and 
what is excluded. It looks at a complexity, embedded in the class 
divisions of our culture. And it draws upon struggles going as far back 
as the enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, colonialism and slavery 
to present day concerns with the dominance of neoliberalism. The Tate 
Gallery is chosen as a focus for these various historical, contemporary, 
political and societal conflicts and its ability to hold our gaze as an 
icon of culture, since it was founded in 1897.

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