At home at Tate Modern

At home at Tate Modern

The Salon, Meshac Gaba’s Contemporary African Museum of Art, Tate Modern

A couple of months ago I found myself sitting in the Salon of Meshac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary African Art exhibit at Tate Modern.

I was very grateful that the room had a sofa I could sit on. I’d been up all night
over-writing and unnecessarily budgeting a project proposal for a three-hour interview process.

I’d stayed the night at a very cushy 5-star hotel just over the Millennium Bridge in front of St. Paul’s, thanks to my mother and youngest sister and lastminute.com‘s Top Secret Hotels.  The interview was a five-minute walk from Mile End Station, only four stops away on the Central Line.  I still managed to almost be late. I walked in on the dot of my interview start time, flustered. That set the tone for day: I felt and acted rushed. No surprise to me I didn’t get the job. I knew I hadn’t by the end of the interview. And I was sure, perversely, it was because I had tried very hard and wanted it very much.

I tried to get back to Euston before peak travel started, but hadn’t realised it started at three.  So I came back to St. Paul’s for an hour-long visit to my true Holy of Holies across the river – the Tate Modern.

I try to make a pilgrimage every time I come down to London.  And it works every time.

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Architecture Room, Meshac Gaba’s Museum of Contemporary Art

I was exhausted and disappointed when I entered the building, and sceptical of Meshac Gaba’s exhibition – a series of conceptual works arranged into a travelling museum.  I was a bit too tired for “conceptual” –or so I thought.  So I walked through dutifully to the last room , and sat down.  And I did what I always do when upset: I wrote. This:

“As I’ve written this, the sounds in the Salon Room –  of a little blond girl in white long-sleeved top and jeans playing a white baby’s rand decorated with the artist’s “trademark” small round colourful dots hole-punched from decommissioned banknotes, the African music from a bar against a wall, the teenage girls on the couch next to me chatting and giggling quietly, people violently sliding the wooden tiles of the flag game tables  –  all these have done the trick.  My nascent headache retreats.  I disappear.  I meld.  I watch people glide along the Millennium Bridge through the floor-to-ceiling windows, stacked like five ladders in the wall opposite.

And I get it.  The room works as art, though I couldn’t tell you why.  It just does.

I love this place.”