Tate Modern-Media Networks exhibition review

This will be my review of the Tate Modern Media Networks exhibition.

I had the choice to write a review on one of 4 exhibitions being held at the Tate Modern two weeks ago. They were Making Traces (mark making), Citizens and States (art based around different states, countries and their inhabitants), Material Worlds (conventional and un-conventional objects and materials used to make new forms of art) and Media Networks (artwork based around popular culture). As much of my recent artwork is based/related to pop culture (food brands and logos), I decided to write a review on the Media Networks exhibition.

Media Networks showcases artwork relating and/or is connected to an aspect of media and pop culture (TV, comics and film).  Many different art styles, techniques and methods were shown prominently in the show, including painting, photography, print screening, installation and film. Among the artwork on display were pieces by many well-known artists, including Andy Warhol and Nam June Paik. Warhol’s screen prints of Madonna emphasizes the highs and lows of fame, how you can be everywhere at once, but then slowly start to fade away. Warhol is often consider one of the pioneers of pop art in the 1960s, and even today, his work still amazes and enthralls critics and young artists alike. Many artists like Warhol uses art to explore certain aspects of popular culture, reinterpreted through their own vision.

Media Networks also explores how artists use their artwork to get their political views across to the audience. For example, Guerrilla Girls, an independent art group who wears gorilla masks to conceal their identities, produces art that explores the blatant sexism and prejudice against female artists in the community. Their artwork is raw and frank, with gorillas as a visual motifs, perhaps representing the male half of the art world.

Nam June Paik’s work revolves around products of the past and present. His Victrola installation emphasizes the outdated and obsolete gramophone, with a TV plasma screen serving as a contrast between them. The contrast between technology of the 1920s and technology of today. Nam is displaying that despite their differences, both pieces of technology share (or shared) a common purpose in society at the time of their inception.

The Media Network exhibition highlights how Postmodern art has evolved over the years. One of the pieces on display was a huge tower, composed of hundreds of radios, found in a darken room. It was an extraordinary sight. Before, Postmodern art was simply artists making artwork based on/around certain trends and products of pop culture, but as I went further through the exhibition, I noticed more artists using products of pop culture to make new pieces of artwork from their own imaginations. Before, the products were used as the basis for art, but now they have become art.

Even today, postmodernist artists are still producing artwork that is related to mass culture, yet reinterpreted in ways that marks them as independent works of art.

Frankly, I think the exhibition was booked very well, with each artist’s work fully displayed for the audience to see. I couldn’t look around the entire exhibition because of the time, but from what I did see, the exhibition highlighted the strengths of pop art and postmodern by picking only the best work from a wide range of well-known postmodern artists. In contrast, the pop goes the world exhibition features a random collection of pop art, some of it not exceptionally good and just thrown in to fill in space. The Media Networks has art work selected by the curators, artists or made specifically for the show. They carefully picked where each piece of work would be displayed in a space they felt would be most appropriate.

The evolution of postmodern art shown in the Media exhibition is contrasted by the evolution of the Tate Modern, which is currently in the process of constructing new sections of the gallery. Just as Postmodern is an extension of Modern art, the Tate is extending its walls and its reach to new heights, to further its connection to the public.

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