Tate Modern to host Richard Bell’s travelling artwork Embassy. This installation, held jointly in the collections of Tate and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, consists of a canvas tent pitched on the Level 1 bridge across the Turbine Hall, surrounded by protests signs and activated through a series of public events. First created in 2013, the work offers a space for activism and dialogue in support of Aboriginal land rights. It is one of several new free displays opening across Tate Modern this season.
Embassy takes its inspiration from the original Aboriginal Tent Embassy, which was pitched on the grounds of Canberra’s Parliament House in 1972 by four young activists. The group were opposing government policy preventing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land ownership. Bell’s Embassy operates as a satellite of the original and has travelled to many different international locations, including Jakarta, New York, Seoul, Amsterdam, Moscow and Kassel, where it has acted as a space of solidarity for communities experiencing injustice and oppression.
A series of public events with guest speakers will take place in and around the tent over the coming weeks, exploring questions of social justice, land rights, sovereignty and coalition building. The programme will include discussions, workshops, screenings and community lunches, with visitors encouraged to take part in sharing their stories and experiences. Another major work by Bell, Pay the Rent, is also installed across the Turbine Hall bridge. This digital screen displays the amount of rent that would be owed to Aboriginal People since the Federation of Australia was established in 1901.
Richard Bell: Embassy, 20th May – 18th June 2023, Tate Modern, Bankside, London SE1 9TG
Embassy is one of many new works which have joined Tate Modern’s free displays this spring. In the Tanks, visitors can now find an atmospheric new display of films, videos and installations. Anna Barham’s In Magenta, Emerald, Lapis is a video projection using puzzles to explore how words and meaning are structured and changed. Rosa Barba’s The Hidden Conference is a film in 3 parts, shown on large-scale cinema projectors, which depict works of art coming to life in museum storage facilities. Nira Pereg’s ABRAHAM ABRAHAM SARAH SARAH silently observes the choreographed interchange between Jewish and Muslim communities at a sacred site in the West Bank. Vivan Sundaram’s Memorial transforms a news photograph from the Bombay riots of 1992-3 into a meditative and mournful installation.