Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fissure Queen

At Saatchi & Saatchi we believe that Nothing is Impossible. This belief springs from the conviction that with focus and passion, commitment and creativity, we can do anything. While Nothing is Impossible is the Saatchi & Saatchi spirit, the idea captures the power of human aspiration in any form. One reason why I have a passion for contemporary art is the sheer pleasure that lies in watching creative people create the impossible. This spirit has been in action during a series of now-famous artist installations at Tate Modern in London. For those of you who haven’t got there yet, imagine a space to humble giants. Vast, cavernous, overwhelming. This is the turbine hall of a power station and the opening space of the Tate Modern experience. While the opportunity to go head-to-head with this space would be daunting to most of us, a number of artists have responded in intriguing and spectacular ways. Olafur Eliasson, for instance, created The Weather Project, a large sun that filled the space with light. People loved it and were even lying down on the floor to stare up at the glowing light. Another artist, a Belgian named Carsten Höller, created Test Site. Here, the Turbine Hall was home to slides in tubes that gave people a thrilling ride from high in the roof right to the ground via some pretty wild curves and twists. The latest installation is Shibboleth by a Columbian, Doris Salcedo. This is possibly one of the most fascinating to date. The hall is completely empty. Indeed it is beyond empty because Salcedo has somehow made a 550 foot crack across the floor of the Turbine Hall. It starts as a hairline fracture at one end and widens to almost ten inches and up to three feet deep as well as zig-zagging off in different directions. This makes for a perfect paradox: an extraordinary spectacle with beautiful intimacy. There’s some excitement as some people try to figure how she did it, of course. The Guardian even got a group of experts together to try and crack the code. To me, the magic is not in any of that. It’s very simple. She has created a mysterious, sensual work that changes the way we think about what that space truly is. Salcedo’s Shibboleth is a living demonstration that the magic of art is to remind us that Nothing is Impossible.