S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Susan Hiller at the Tate Britain/Pollen Street Social

Some evenings work out fabulously. It was good enough that I knew I was going to see the Susan Hiller show this evening at the Tate. It was a private showing with the artist, the museum opened up just for our group, spacious and tranquil.

There are some fascinating pieces in the show. One which inspired an extensive discussion among two of us was called Enquiries/Inquiries, and extracted a large number of questions/answers from old English and old American encyclopedias, projecting them side by side as if still from a slide projector, on flatscreen televisions, but with the ongoing soundtrack of changing slides, when appropriate.

One of my favorites was a whole room installation entitled Witness. It was dark and large and thin lines of nearly pearly wire ran down from the ceiling creating a space like a grove of willows. The hush was full of murmur, a babeling of sound which crescendeoes and died. I walked around it it slowly, around the edge, the room all to myself, not touching. Only when I was around halfway around did I come close enough to one of the circular wire ends and realize it had its own unique commentary. Each wire ended at head heights - a whole swathe of different possible head heights - and each was a small speaker for listening to personal confessions of UFO and alien encounters of different varieties. I spent a good ten or fifteen minutes listening to commentary, other people gradually discovering the room too. Some would flit through the forest from speaker to speaker. Others, like me, would stay to listen through the end of an anecdote or more, frozen into stillness like some of the people we were listening to had been in their alien encounters.

Another one I quite liked was a cabinet of small, stoppered bottles of water, all different, collected from holy water sites the world over, from particular counties in the UK, from Greece, from Egypt, from the Ganges, from the Jordan. So much travel, so many adventures could have gone into its makikng - and that is before taking into account that it is an homage to Joseph Beuys.

And then, after canapés and wine and conversation with the artist and with friends, I ended up at Perdido Pollen Street Social, the new Jason Atherton restaurant with a dessert bar. (The dessert bar, of course, being one of the major elements which caught my attention in advance descriptions.) We had tapas and cocktails at the bar. The char-grilled prawns were fiddly but very tasty; my fingers still smell nicely because of them. The lamb chops were, improbably, even more fiddly than the prawns; the sauce was good, a rich infusion of onions, jus, capers, something citrus, and something berry-y, but the prawns were better. Also, I should have asked for a real cutting knife. The rhubarb bellini was undermined by its hint of vanilla, which gave it echoes of candy rather than enhancing the complementary bitterness. Indeed, I could scarcely taste the rhubarb. Still, the space is pleasant, the staff are a delight, and I'm only being picky because it seemed fundamentally solid in the first place.
Tags: eating in london, food, london

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