Phyllida Barlow’s 2014 Tate Britain Commission dock inevitably evoked the history of the Port of London. With its motley sacks and tangles of cranes, the piece recalled the waterfront as it appeared before the arrival of the shipping container redefined global trade in terms of anonymous, neatly stackable metric boxes that could just as easily contain weapons as toys. A carnival of open sculptural forms, dock was a raucous response to the stern Neoclassicism of the Duveen Galleries, and was well received by press and public alike.
Barlow’s successor installation, demo, 2016, had a slightly more melancholy effect. Wandering into it felt akin to entering a forest after a floodthe floor was scoured clear, but at the high-water mark the branches held aloft what looked like nonsensical, oversize pieces of furniturestranded rafts, twists of fabric, a grand piano or two. The
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.
Not registered for artforum.com?
SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*
* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.