‘Who owns what?’ is the title of the image I stood in front of for my picture to be taken by a colleague for my blog whilst blissfully unaware of the future about to be forecast. Just prior to the referendum results I was in The Tate Modern with two other people for the afternoon looking at the new extension and the works within. We went round the exhibitions at break neck speed hungry for creative stimulation. The three of us ate a hearty lunch beforehand knowing we needed energy for the task ahead of looking and seeing and moving between the vast spaces full of global inspiration, wonder, curiosity, intrigue, imagination and communication.
We start off in a room with photographs of tower blocks from East London being blown up to make way for the then new Olympic stadium. One of my group recognised the estate and buildings from having lived in the area all his life. He hadn’t seen them as art before but homes where his friends had lived.
Two of us, being the wrong side of fifty to move around the works in such haste in our attempt to keep up with the third younger and fitter member of our party, who was devouring the art works as if starved of creative nutrition, found ourselves equally devouring the spectacle as the art worked its magic.
As we went round we spoke together of our experience the artworks were having on us and shared our ideas and little bits of knowledge, stopping briefly to take photographs and look around at the view. The effort nearly killed me as I was oblivious to the ever increasing pain in my back from the head on collision with a groceries delivery truck I’d had last year, but was over ridden by the amazement I felt from the new environment.
Preparations were evident of the grand opening the next day of the new galleries, much of this was lost on the other two who had not realised we were a tiny part of history being amongst the first of many people to view the instillations.
As we went round the works made by artists from oppressed and politically war torn countries one of my companions shared an idea he’d had for a piece of art work. Indeed he showed me the faded scars on his face he’d received after someone flied out his hand indiscriminately scratching him deeply on his cheek, which seemed to inspire him. The scar was a remnant of trauma and made sense of a comment made to me that he could do with an outing. I then remembered my companion and I had not discussed a traumatic event we’d been through a couple of years ago and could see the deeper emotional scars were still seeping and needed (ad)dressing. We discussed the event as we walked passed the works made by feminist artists expressing the pain and torture from female oppression and abuse, and found ourselves feeling healed by our exchange as we recollected our previous outing together that ended horribly. The third member of our party, oblivious of the discussion taking place but not the event itself, continued to make his way round the gallery stopping momentarily to point out works of art he appreciated and taking in the mini explanations by the ‘Ten minute talkers’ dotted around to give audiences a brief insight to the backgrounds to the artworks in front of us. One was a painting of a man standing wrapped in a blanket surrounded by filth and excrement in a prison cell representing the dirty protests of the political prisoners at the time of the Northern Ireland uprising over English rule. Another war another time but the years of terror two of us remembered well as the third man relayed the bits of information he’d retained from the talker. Having taken in a new piece of information he could identify with having equally expressed dramatic behaviour as an act of protest, and who also carried his own internal scars, the stories folded in front of us and connected with our own.
We walk into the ‘Louise Bourgeois’ gallery and find ourselves facing a sculpture of a giant spider. Walking underneath it I point out the huge egg sack within and explained what I knew of the origin of the work connecting it to the artists anger and frustration and the relevance of the spider representing the artists mother who was a master seamstress. We move on to the gory painful looking paintings of red sinew bloodied like shapes and speak about the forms being like veins and arteries extracted from bodies and splayed across the paper. One of the men recalls his childhood beatings and the blood he saw escaping his own body. We spoke about witnessing things as a child that should not be seen or made known until adulthood. This related to the artists childhood experiences that inspired her art as a vehicle for expressing her anger, pain and survival.
I was reminded of my own anger, usually directed at the white goods in my kitchen, namely the fridge and freezer, on which I’ve vented my fury, once to such an extent I managed to lift and haul my old fridge out the kitchen and throw it outside my front door. I can’t abide white goods that break down on me spoiling all the food inside. Its become a family joke that if mum is angry the white goods are going to get a kicking. In my defence at least I take it out on inanimate objects and not people.
So, ‘who owns what?’ Who does own what? Many people I know have not owned their own anger and frustrations and have taken it out on people and themselves. Perhaps it would help if we all had a EU regulated fridge throwing event to exorcise our anger!
“I have a sense that the population voting to leave have not taken responsibility for their anger by displacing it onto a misguided notion that tearing us away from the European Union was the answer”
A week later….
Today the notion of ‘Who owns what?’ takes a turn. In the aftermath of the referendum, as the UK awoke yesterday to the news that ‘Brexit’ have won, I have a sense that the population voting to leave have not taken responsibility for their anger by displacing it onto a misguided notion that tearing us away from the European Union was the answer. Inconsiderate of the generations left behind with the aftermath of their decision, a teeny tiny majority of 51%, not a landslide victory but enough to ensure we are leaving the EU, described it as ‘Independence Day’. I call it ‘Sad Day’.
Here’s what was published in The Guardian yesterday. The title: ‘If you’re young and angry about the EU referendum, you’re right to be’ (Rhiannon Lucy Cosslet) 24.06.16
The article commiserates the loss of opportunity for younger people to work and study in 27 other European countries at the reckless disregard of the thoughtless Baby Boomers swayed by the ridiculous Tory Fear propaganda campaign that the UK will be swamped by ‘rapist immigrants’ taking our jobs and our homes. Hardly! We leave that to the filthy rich immigrants investing offshore in tax havens and buying up the property market purely for investment purposes without a second thought to the effect this has on the community that live in the UK.
‘Who owns what’ has now taken on a different meaning over night. ‘Who owns the future?’ it should now read.
As the continent is left fractured and the UK divided I am left feeling angry on behalf of my children, whose futures remain uncertain as we consider the fall out of this catastrophe over the next two years. Cameron bails out to make way for an even bigger buffoon making poor decisions unrepresentative of the younger generations betrayed by politicians self serving greed.
I was proud to call ourselves as Europeans, I am now embarrassed and ashamed to call myself a Brit. To commiserate I took my 18 year old out for a late lunch in a continental café. Though disappointed he spoke of feeling excited about new opportunities and rather than downhearted he could see the potential for change having also voted to remain. We scoff our French fries and Panini’s musing on whether we will have to go back to calling them chips and sarnies.
So has the UK the resilience and resources to recover from yet another major trauma? In true Brit style the country seems to be carrying on a usual. There’s no riots or revolts but a bit of tutting and eye rolling. I feel I have a lot more to say about this but at the moment there’s a lot to process in the separation from a forty-year marriage, like who will keep the kids? and ‘Who owns what?’……..