Migration hidden beneath Tate Modern’s latest Exhibition

Heat-sensitive material accompanied with a ‘crying’ room are apart of the latest exhibition at The Tate Modern with the intention to make visitors ‘uncomfortable’ and highlight the journey migrants take.  

Tate Modern’s Turbine hall flooring is covered in heat-sensitive material commissioned by Hyundai and created by Tania Brugera. Hiding beneath it is a portrait of Yousef, a young Syrian man who fled to the UK in 2011 and is now a biomedical science student working for the NHS.

A low-frequency sound is constantly being played in the Turbine hall as well as a ‘crying’ room with an organic compound that physically makes the visitor cry, both designed to make the visitors feel uncomfortable. Tania calls it ‘forced empathy’ and is intended to break down people’s usual social barriers as well as saying ‘Life is not comfortable. I want people to get out of their comfort zone’.

With this exhibition, Tania aims to create awareness about the positive aspects of migration by bringing people together to reveal the portrait of Yousef.

The purpose of the crying room is to make people think about the loss migration involves. Entering the room visitors are stamped with a 12 digit number representing the number of migration plus the number of migrant deaths both in 2018. Based on these numbers an ever-changing title is created as the migration and deaths change (currently 10,143,225).

Speaking to local visitors Nicholas Morgan and Jeni Godwin they stated that they felt that it was powerful to look down on the entire portrait from the viewing platform. However said they felt “no sense of anything” not understanding the link between the three parts of the exhibition and feeling “disappointed”.   

Is Tania Bugeras message truly conveyed in this abstract new piece of art? Or has her message been lost in Tanias key beliefs being misconstrued? Find out for yourself by visiting the Tate before the closing date on February 24th 2019.

Georgie & Saffron (+the rest of Red Patch)