I've had a very hectic week, with very little time to post.
Quite a lot of that was taken up with family business. Like going with my mother to have her heart scanned (I might write a post about the traumas of encountering our glorious National Health Service when the patient is your 89 year old disabled mother who has advanced dementia). Most of the rest has involved me being in touch with various art colleges to set up interviews for my daughter, who's here from Jerusalem for ten days.
It's a pity that the BBC doesn't offer a chance to replay it online, because of the disc selection copyright issues.
Two things particularly resonated with me about what she said on the programme. The first was her account of doing the Holocaust memorial installation in Vienna, which is a cast of a library turned inside out, with the spines of the books facing the shelves, and invisible to the viewer.
She doesn't think of herself as a political artist, although she recognises that there are indeed political implications in her work. But the Vienna installation landed her in a level of politics she never anticipated, with controversy in the Austrian Jewish community about the project, and outright opposition to the project from far right groups. She described the shock of finding herself at the opening, barely able to cope with the event being turned into a threatening high security affair, with police snipers posted on rooftops to protect her. She reacted by passing out from the shock and stress after the ceremony.
I reflected on the continuing unreadiness of almost all the UK commentators and bloggers I most respect to accept that this is the political context which makes the criminalization of Holocaust denial in Austria an issue to do with incitement to racism and neo-Nazi agitation, rather than free speech. And I'm pleased to see this evening that the Austrian authorities have now banned Irving from giving media interviews from his prison cell. Ironic indeed, because no British convict would be allowed to give such interviews, even if he was appealing his case.
The other part of Rachel Whiteread's interview that most resonated with me was her discussion of how having a child has affected her work as an artist. Her son is now five. The experience of having him involved as an active spectator and "helper" in her projects, Embankment in particular, seems to have encouraged her to include an element of designing and installing her work to provide spaces for children to hide and play in.
The first time I saw Embankment, in December, it was on a weekday morning. There were no children, and relatively few visitors. I spent quite some time walking round it then with a sense of being almost the only person there.
But Sunday was different. The Tate Modern was crowded with visitors, a lot of whom made a beeline for Embankment, perhaps spurred on by the knowledge that it's going to close in a week. It will then be dismantled for ever, and recycled by being turned into traffic bollards.
And there were crowds of children. Most of them tried their best to get away from their parents and play variants on hide and seek between and behind the piles of boxes.
I was impressed by the two Spanish children pictured at the head of this post. Or rather, by the imaginativeness and generosity of their parents in giving them each a digital camera and letting them take off to make their own photographic response to Embankment.
Then there was an older girl, looking guilty at being caught by my camera as she played at snaking in and out of stacks of boxes, creeping towards my daughter, who was sketching the installation.
My daughter was as struck as I was by the way the children treated Embankment as a variant on a maze or hide and seek game. But she kept on sketching.