Rachel Whiteread’s Solid Air

There’s something cool yet passionate about Rachel Whiteread’s work. It is calmly paradoxical, domestic but monumental, tactile but detached, nostalgic but austere: objects and dwellings from everyday lives are lifted to a different sphere, a dance in space. In a new exhibition celebrating twenty-five years of her career as an artist, Tate Britain has removed the partitions that usually divide separate rooms, creating a huge open space with white walls and glowing, pale wood floor. She asks us to see things we know—tables and chairs, the inside of a room—from the opposite of our normal perspective, looking at the space instead of the walls, the gaps instead of the frames, making the air itself solid.

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