Solo Exhibition
13 December 2021–16 October 2022

Rivane Neuenschwander: Commonplace

East Tank, Tate Modern, London, UK

‘Commonplace’, 1999 is remade according to Neuenschwander’s instructions every time it is exhibited. Resembling delicate white paintings and composed entirely of talcum powder brushed into rectangular shapes, it is extremely fragile and will be destroyed at the end of this display. A broom was used to gather the talcum into circular shapes within the rectangles, leaving streaks in the powder. These traces suggest the artist is treating the powder like a kind of paint and the broom as a brush.

The use of a simple broom and a familiar toiletry product also brings to mind images of domestic life. The faint smell of talc might bring back memories of its use for personal care. This is a ‘commonplace’, intimate and homely experience many people share. Each rectangle can be seen as a floor-based ‘white monochrome’ painting. Many artists experimented with the colour white between the 1950s and the 1970s. They were, in a sense, also trying to make the familiar medium of painting into something unfamiliar. This act reduced their artistic labour into minimal gestures.

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