Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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‘Making History’ – Tate Liverpool

branson.jpgAlso last night, before going to Open Eye, I went to the opening of the latest special exhibition at Tate Liverpool (slightly easier to reach now that the new bus station is open).
The full title is ‘Making History – Art and Documentary in Britain from 1929 to Now’ and is in chronological order split into 4 main sections:

Defining Documentary 1929-1949 featuring, amongst others, filmmaker John Grierson who coined the term ‘documentary’, William Coldstream, Bill Brandt, Henry Moore and Humphrey Jennings.

Looking at Britain 1950-1969 has the Free Cinema movement bringing regional and working-class lives to the screen and the opposing concepts of Modernist realism and Kitchen Sink realism. Bratby, Spender, Trevelyan. Lots of photos of working class streets in the East End and similar by Henderson, Mayne and Hedges.

mayne_teddy.jpgGender, Race and Society 1970-1989 Maybe its just that I was getting tired but things seem to get a bit too heavy and overtly political from here onwards. We’re into Thatcher’s Britain, Miners strikes, the role of women, the move to more multi-culturism etc. The founding of the fly-on-the-wall TV genre with ‘The Family’ in1974 (may they never be forgiven!). An incredibly boring (though worthwhile sociological study) collection of documentary evidence (black ring-binders and all) of the differences between men and women’s pay in a Bermondsey factory.

Reconstructing History 1990-Now – Nearly all videos now unfortunately. Gillian Wearings 10-16 1997, Granada’s 7Up and its sequels, Jeremy Deller’s re-enactment of the ‘Battle of Orgeave’ (the miners’ strike again) looks fairly interesting but needs time to take it all in. Didn’t have time to look at Isaac Julien’s video ‘Paradise Omeros’.

So there is a lot to see, especially if you stop and watch all the films. I preferred the early sections, some lovely ‘arty’ black and white photographs mixed in with paintings of times long before I was born. I am less keen on the ‘talking heads’ and fly-on-the-wall films of more recent years.

At Tate Liverpool until April 23rd 2006