PRINT January 2020


Steve McQueen, Ashes (detail), 2002–15, still from the HD video component (8 mm and 16 mm transferred to two-channel HD video, color, sound, 20 minutes 31 seconds) of a mixed-media installation additionally comprising a two-sided screen and posters.

STEVE McQUEEN’s work makes one aware of movement—migratory, political, forced—that has been compelled and then interdicted. Many viewers will likely be familiar with his feature films, Hunger (2008), Shame (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2013), and Widows (2018), but perhaps less so with his immersive, often Minimalist sculptural and video installations. Tate Modern’s survey this spring will bring together twelve of these gestural, spontaneous, and menacing pieces from 1992 to the present.

Much of this work evokes wanted and unwanted closeness, tenderness, and longing. In Charlotte, 2004, we encounter the discomfort of McQueen’s finger approaching actress Charlotte Rampling’s open eye; in Girls, Tricky, 2001, we get an ecstatic close-up of rapper and producer Tricky in the recording studio. In the installation Weight, 2016, we find a prison bed canopied with a diaphanous mosquito net.

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