So we went to the Tate (Modern) and it was crawling with families (half term). I'd forgotten just how busy the Tate gets at the weekend. The last few times I've been were when I was working near London Bridge and so went after work when it was relatively quiet. I hadn't been since the latest re-hang, so it was fun finding out where things had moved to and spotting old friends in new places. I'm not totally convinced by some of the arrangements. There are lots of walls with clusters of paintings, apparently haphazardly arranged, some too high to see properly. One thing I did like was a small corridor-like room with Cindy Sherman self portraits and 'film stills' on one wall and some of Gillian Waring's Signs that Say What You Want Them to Say and Not Signs that Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say on the other. Putting them opposite each other created a sort of visual dialogue, two ways of using photography to explore identity and what people want to say about themselves.
Other stuff was less exciting. I think I've just grown out of surrealism. It mostly seemed very silly, where once it looked profound and exciting. Perhaps it's just familiarity. Once you've seen Dali's Lobster Telephone once, it becomes an old joke, there's not much to it. But then I still love seeing Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even. It's fun, if not particularly profound.
Also definitely in the fun category, are Carsten Holler's slides (Test Site). There were ENORMOUS queues for the lower ones. The taller ones are on a timed ticket system, so the queues look shorter, but they were so booked up, we couldn'e got on them. So we queued for 45 minutes for one of the lower slides and amused ourselves with I-spy and watching small children running about and/or having tantrums. I think it was worth it, just about, for a short, twisty slide. You do whizz pretty fast, even on the short slide.
We met up with my mum for dinner, and then went on the National Theatre for The Life of Galileo. I hadn't read the play beforehand, although I'll be studying it next year. I think I'd rather see plays before I read them, it makes the reading easier if you've got a mental picture of a stage and actors to move around. I liked the production, although the two song and dance numbers didn't sit very well with what was otherwise a fairly naturalistic setting. Simon Russell Beale was a wonderful Galileo, transforming from loveable shabby academic to passionate seeker of truth to broken old man. Seeing the play made me want to know more about Brecht and to see more theatre. It's relatively easy to get from Cambridge to London and there are good theatres in Cambridge too. Must have cultured weekends more often!
UPDATED to say: The Gender Genie thinks the writer of this entry is female. I don't notice much difference between this and my usual style. Interesting.