Ten Days Six Nights review at Tate Modern: A celebration of live performance art on the South Bank

Melissa York
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If you took the Science Museum out of the equation, the Tate Modern would probably be the most interactive cultural institution in London.

From Carston Holler’s giant slides to Ai Wei Wei’s Sunflower Seeds, art lovers have been getting stuck into the Turbine Hall for years now. Taking things a step further, Ten Days Six Nights is the gallery’s first “live” exhibition, starting today and ending on 2 April.

The Tate’s subterranean Tanks will host free installations from a diverse mix of artists from all over the world, while ticketed events, from short films to contemporary dance segments, will take place over six evenings.

Intended to be an annual affair, the headline grabber actually takes place outside the Switch House, where a water vapour cloud of fog by 83-year-old Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya engulfs visitors in a cooling mist. While the steam rising off the terrace, punters running through with their arms aloft, is a spectacle, it’s far from enlightening.

Down in the Tanks there were a number of sensory experiences that played around with encroaching digitisation and surveillance. Prop up a cushion and watch Could Have Beens, a CCTV feed of willing lemming Ryan Doyle (there’s a consent form on the wall and everything) walking around Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester.

Visitors could trigger ‘chance events’ by tugging on “showers” of knotted rope hanging from the ceiling and walking in front of a fan to influence the flutter of an abacus’ worth of plastic tabs. In the larger tanks, actors slink around hanging mounds of moss to an ethereal, throbbing soundtrack, their ripped jeans and grey hoodies creating an urban juxtaposition with these natural intrusions.

Most impressive of all was a pair of shifting eyes, projected in neon colours, onto a Tank wall to a thrumming digital soundtrack; a rave that was just as menacing as it was mesmerising.

Now we’re all plugged into the digital matrix, live performance is still uniquely exhilarating. It’s good to see the Tate Modern taking notice.

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