Crowd control in force at Tate Modern

with TateShots

From: TateShots “Crowd control in force at Tate Modern”. February, 2008. TATE, Tate Channel: Tania Bruguera. United Kingdom.


with TateShots

Tania Bruguera:  What actually happens is that you arrive to the Museum to see art work, and you encounter two mounted police, dressed with their uniform, on their horses, and who are actually using all the techniques they learn in the Police Academy and through their experience as policemen to control the audience of the exhibition.

They have these police who are coming towards you and giving you directions of what to do, where to move, if you have to stand or you have to move somewhere. And they are using the horses to make this happen, like they usually do in their everyday job.

Mounted Policeman: OK ladies and gentlemen, I’m just going to walk forward their, so if you could just stand one side or the other. Are these your children? Could th ey stand with Dad or with Mum? That’s it. Nice and close. Well done. The horse is now going to walk forwards. Stand aside please. Thank you very much.

Tania Bruguera: The people do not have to know that it’s art. And for me this is very important, because once you know it’s art, then you can do other associations, that are not exactly what you would do in your everyday life. So the fact that they are using and having the same reaction they have in real life when they see the police controlling them, for me is very important. I am working in a way which I like people not to think it’s art, so they can really enjoy it as a lived event and not as a representation of a live event. And what I am actually doing is, each piece is like a little vignette where the audience can have a little piece of experience with power. In this case it is with the police.

In the next case, which I am going to do in Valencia, is going to be to feel that you are in power for one minute. So it’s all these different stages of power also, but through the image. So every piece I have done so far, let’s say it’s the quotation – the visual quotation – is an image I’ve seen on TV, in the News, on TV. And this is very important, because it’s how can you transform our main source of political education or bad education, which is the News, into something else? Mounted police is something you can see in the photos in ’68. You can see it in 1935, 1968 and 2000, you know, so it’s a kind of historically recurrent image of power. And always linked to a very specific political action in order – from the audience – I mean, from the people.

And I really like that people here were reacting with the same kind of a spirit like – you know – ‘Oh, is this about controlling people? Is this about terrorism?’ So I really like that people really have all this inside them, that they don’t want to think about, you know. It’s kind of a way to bring them back to this self-consciousness of the moment we are living at, right?