Some of the most interesting events taking place at Tate Liverpool in the past year or so have been produced by Tate Collective (the organisation for young people to create, curate and socialise through Tate’s programme) and Tate Enterprises (the wing of Tate tasked with managing the shop, cafe and external events).
The latest of these was an after-hours experience throughout the building, on Friday 12 April. This ‘one-off immersive art and sound experience’ offered visitors (for a fee) the chance to explore the permanent collections, and Op Art in Focus exhibition with unique musical accompaniment, in the guise of silent disco-style headphones. Three channels gave a selection of live acts – Meine Nacht DJ Breakwave, Wirral-based psych-pop outfit Annexe the Moon, DJ and visual artist Nanna Koekoek and award-winning composer/sound designer Phil Channell.
As visitors wandered around the building, it was easy and fun to flick between channels to find the soundtrack to your gallery visit, and I very quickly learned where the night’s main event was being held. Heading up in the lift to the fourth floor gallery was a strange experience, as my head filled with electronica inside an empty metal cube – a fittingly barren environment for such a stark and minimal soundtrack. Arriving on the fourth floor, the mix of generations and the flurry of excitement in the lobby just five minutes earlier all made sense, as the total art experience became apparent.
The fourth floor dockside gallery was home to the official label launch for Meine Nacht for the night, opening with support from acclaimed electronic producer Phil Channell, whose original soundscapes beautifully augmented Nanna KoeKoek’s visuals, inspired by Op Art and the quite left field referenced point of British pub carpets.
Headlining the black cube space was NTS Radio regular and Founder of Meine Nacht, Breakwave, whose enigmatic club night series has lit up venues across the UK and Europe. She’s also a regular at 24 Kitchen Street, and the crowd was testament to her much lauded presence. An amalgamation of breakbeat, post-dubstep, acid infused house, techno and Jungle, her set featured musical accompaniment from artist Daniel Ruane, centred within the most complete and absorbing 360 visual experience I’ve come across. Throbbing music laid the foundation for the visual references, but the projections (ever changing from monochromatic, trippy patterns to multicoloured, atmospheric hues) were equally stunning in the midst of silence, achieved by taking off the headphones for just a moment.
In short, it was a very cool idea, executed brilliantly. I have since spoken to a lot of people, however, who would have loved to be part of it had they known the score. The event description, albeit in Tate’s signature style, felt vague and polite, lacking the reality of what was essentially an incredibly original, club night experience. Perhaps using the phrase “contemplation space” in the marketing was a poor choice. But Tate, if you’re listening, we’d like more!
Art 360: After Dark took place on 12 April, 2019.
Sinéad Nunes is a writer, editor and arts professional based in Liverpool. She is Merseyside Regional Editor for Corridor 8.