Three to see: Tate Modern

Read our Q&A with Tate Modern to discover more about the venue, and visit Art Fund Museum of the Year 2017 to find out more about the prize, the history, the judges and the rest of this year's finalists.


1

Cildo Meireles, Babel, 2001

  • Hundreds of radios play at once in a ‘tower of incomprehension’

Stacks of analogue radios form Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles’ huge structure, which plays on the biblical image of the Tower of Babel. Tuned to a multitude of different stations, the devices contribute to a low hum of sound, voices and music – listen closely and you may be able to make out individual programmes, or step back and let the cacophony wash over you. Meireles began collecting the radios after observing the variety available in the bargain shops of Canal Street, New York, and the work took 10 years to complete.


2

Marcel Duchamp, Fountain, 1917, replica 1964

  • Arguably the artist's most famous work, Fountain still creates conversation

The term ‘iconic’ is often overused but, in the case of Marcel Duchamp’s urinal, its application is justified. An example of what Duchamp called a ‘readymade’ – an ordinary manufactured object designated by the artist as a work of art, in this instance signed by a certain ‘R. Mutt’ – it proved controversial in its time and has inspired argument ever since. Does it matter whether the artist made the work? Can a dull, functional item be a work of art if someone says it is? Duchamp’s manoeuvre triggered many questions that energised early 20th-century debate.


3

Janet Cardiff, Forty Part Motet, 2001

  • Sound surrounds the listener in this 40-speaker audio work

Visitors can step inside the sound of a choir in Janet Cardiff’s audio installation, which reworks the 16th-century choral motet Spem in Alium by Thomas Tallis. More accurately, visitors hear the sound of eight choirs: 40 speakers, one for each voice, are split into eight groups, and listeners can appreciate individual singers or immerse themselves in the soundscape as a whole. Challenging the traditional concert format, Cardiff wants people to be able to feel the music from the viewpoint of the performer, and consider how sound may physically construct a space.


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