Inside the Serpentine Pavilion
More news on the toddler-friendly gallery front (on the offchance anyone is following what seems to have become what newspapers love to dub an "occasional series"): we stumbled on two more gems this past week. The first is admittedly obvious: Jean Novel's giant red tent - well, at least that's how I sold it to Louis - outside the Serpentine in Hyde Park. It's their annual summer pavilion-cum-cafe; architecture and caffeine, a winning combination. Louis enjoyed the chill out corner, complete with red air mattresses and red beanbags to bounce on (everything's in iconic London red; even the fruit and vegetables growing in the garden) and DJ and I enjoyed the coffee. There are chess tables and ping pong tables, so it might be fun checking it out without Louis too, especially as it's open into the evening.
The second exhibition I picked purely with me in mind. Francis Alys at the Tate Modern. I'd stumbled on him a year ago at the National Portrait Gallery where he'd curated, rather than painted, a room full of portraits of a Catholic Saint, Fabiola. I may not know my religious art, but somehow her image, side one, head hooded with a red veil, is hauntingly familiar. All the more so in fact after seeing 300 or more different takes on her that he scooped up over the years at various car boot sales or what have you and hung in a single room, barely inches apart. So simple and quite outstanding.
This time Alys, a Belgian artist who has lived in Mexico City since the mid-1980s, has some powerful stuff to say about the state of Latin America. Witness a video of a man pushing a giant block of ice around Mexico City on a hot day. Unsurprisingly he is left with nothing to show for his endeavour. Likewise the driver of a VW Beetle that tries to drive up a steep dirt track to the soundtrack of a brass band rehearsing. Every time the band stops, the car stops, sliding back down the track. There's also footage of around 500 people strung out in a line along a sand dune. Spades in hand, they advance, step by painful step, digging as they walk in a futile attempt to move the dune. The video of children building a sandcastle on a beach as the tide turns has a similar message about the futility of life, especially for a Latin American. Ditto the one of children skimming stones into the sea. Plip, plip, plip, plip, sink. Plip, plip, plip, plip, sink.
All those videos made it another perfect exhibition with Louis in tow; the sand and digging an added bonus. Not to mention getting in early with such a vital life lesson. Or is that a bit bleak?