As if there is time

Here are photos and a rough ‘walking poem’ from a visit to the refurbished spaces of BP sponsored Tate Britain, a few days after taking part in the Liberate Tate performance, Parts Per Million.


Photo copyright Kristian Buus, 2013

In this performance, we counted the numbers rising of the parts of CO2 in the atmosphere, standing in appropriate formation in each decade of the Twentieth Century. Finally, in the room of the art of the present day, we reached 400 Parts Per Million and could count no further. So 400 echoed and wavered and stuck. We were 50 people, half of a hundred, dressed in black. We were veiled to be faceless mourners, atomised, but still with feeling and voice. We were counting and we counted. On my return today, I kept finding pitch, oil, tar and reduced abstraction everywhere. The white cubes of the fresh new gallery seemed everywhere to be ornamentally and deliberately interspersed with darkness. I found representations of people as circles, signs or parts. I was thinking about how we are living in a desert of the real, how people have become walking artworks, and that art both perpetuates and resists that.

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As if there is time

As if there is all the time

All this time tar welling over alabaster cut sharp

Into a well that spirals into underground seams

And caves in to monochrome, to flat floor

Casting in black wax the scene of a crime

A cutting into black folds of what is felt.


As if there is time

As if there is all the time

All the time seeming pure and righteous

As the square-winged wrestling angel

A pristine sump, a pitch wedged into white,

A shiny teardrop spilled, but no accident

Drops over decades, the stony slow years.


As if there is time

As if there is all the time

In all the world’s leaves turning to black

Of all the sea’s life laying down to stone

Then the forever bodies carved out of stone

Facets of faces and all the turnings

Laced and layered, forced out into fixity


As if there is time

As if there is all the time

This losing of colour, these golden years

This division into black and white, joined

Memory of vivid pink gerberas in their

Tannic traces, stemming from soil

Once, and oil is the memory of trees


As if there is time

As if there is all the time


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