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What The Heck? Rosie McGinn @ Tate Exhange with OOF magazine - WHO ARE YA?

Rosie McGinn: Get in there

What The Heck? ⚽🏃‍♀️!

Tate Exchange (5th Floor Tate Modern), London - As part of WHO ARE YA? A week long workshop/event by Tate: Exploring art, identity and football, straight off the back of the world cup.

6-11 August 2019

Ah! The Tate Exchange, a dedicated space for community, activity and exploration through art. I was appropriately chuffed on hearing that Rosie McGinn would be presenting a new and ambitious work 'Get In There', an audience reliant and participation based installation consisting of hundreds of personalised 'fans'. But what the bloody hell has football got to do with FINE art? (Spits out flat white all over cashmere turtle neck in disgust).

I thought I should better get myself 'in there' and see what it was all about. If going off of the rest of McGinn's works was anything to go by, 'Who Are Ya' was going to be outrageously unserious but socially poignant. Not too long ago I popped over to Art Lacuna where the artist had turned the gallery space into a miniature olympic ice rink for a couple of vacuum hoover robots to spin around in propping up some Torvill and Dean dolls. No, you didn't read that wrong, it really happened. McGinn has also created a variety of time-based media, made up of appropriated footage which can be viewed on Daata, exploring euphoria and escapism. As well as my personal favourite pieces such as 'Gazza, 2019' and 'Howse, 2018' both of which are giant, moving inflatable/stuffed characters manipulated by simple mechanisms. All of this stuff is quite absurd to witness, at times it hurts my diaphragm.

"Just tell us about the Tate Exchange pal"

The space was filled with things to do and information points, I could hear football whistles and footsteps running around at the back of the room where a class of kids played a game (taking it all very seriously), though along the wall was Who are ya and just opposite sat the artist frantically printing, cutting and sewing new additions to the already trothing installation. I sat down to help put some cartoonish cardboard fans together, a fiddly and tedious process which really put the entirety of the work into worrying perspective. As I hole-punched, sewed and threaded I realised I had been chatting with some strangers for a while about who knows what, football stuff, ears and travelling. Slowly but surely the pile of requests grew larger and larger as more people wanted to have their very own mug printed and animated to go up on the wall.

I soon decided it was time for some lunch as my arts and crafts abilities seemed to deplete fairly heavily all of a sudden about 10 minutes in, a good chance to ask Rosie some questions about the exhibition and process.


Hello again-again... How has it been here at the Tate Exchange?

It’s been quite intense, but it’s been really fulfilling. Especially making the football fans with the kids, and them seeing themselves come out of the printer. I’ve really liked the interactive element, it’s been really good. It feels very different to my other stuff.

What is it about football that attracts you to make artwork about it?

Because I grew up around football, I always saw it as being about highs and lows, the cycle of highs and lows. Like your team winning then your team losing. Me and my dad are big Man United fans and we would go and watch local games, Gillingham and Charlton, so I would always used to look at the crowd because it was always full of guys shouting like the worst thing I ever heard and I thought it was hilarious, it was like this expulsion of emotion from loads of blokes which is quite interesting. I think football's quite rich in that it draws out quite extreme emotions and human insight, it’s community based as well, it’s where people go as a collective to support one team and it’s unified.

On first impressions football and art seem worlds apart, what do you think about this culture gap and does it exist?

Yeah, I was watching the RA summer show program the other day and I thought I couldn’t connect with it at all, I just thought it was all really about money. It was nice that it was about artists sending in their work but it just seems like a really traditional and white point of view. I switched over and Billy Elliot was on, and I cried even though I’ve seen it loads of times and I just thought, well this is art. Music and film has this amazing thing of reaching a wide spread of people, Where as art likes to keep itself to itself, I think its wrong. It should be like sport, like football, like music and film. It should be spread wide as possible and understood by as many people as possible.

How has it been working with OOF magazine?

It’s been amazing actually because I always felt like art was what I wanted to do and I felt like I could connect with a lot of people in the art world but I also felt like I didn’t quite belong in that, in the work that I was doing and the way I approached art. To come across OOF magazine has been really refreshing because then you think "OK someone else has the same perspective as me, and is looking at humans and passion" – For the same reasons why I love art and football. It’s been a really good collaboration and I really like what they stand for.

Will you continue to work with the theme of football, what other themes are you going to be working with next?

No more football for a while, I’ve been quite football heavy over the last year but I will probably come back to it. I’ve got something coming up in Birmingham and Belfast, where I’m working on something about clubbing. Maybe some similar sculpture medium to my Gazza and Torvill and Dean pieces, I’m thinking of doing the world’s strongest man as a kinetic sculpture. But I also need to chill out for a bit and re-centre, because it’s been pretty full on for a while and I want to have enough space to think about new ideas.

How would you sum up your practice in 3 words?

Hmmm... Funny, moving and human. Thanks Rosie and soooo looong! (The space is open until Sunday 11th August - 6pm)


Regarding the sad and recent news at the Tate Modern. Here is a go fund me page that has been set up to provide top notch health care for the poor lad. Please donate something if you can.

All images taken on my camera, but obviously all rights go to Rosie McGinn, OOF magazine and Tate Exchange.

Who the Heck wrote this? Mitchell Smith // Artist & "Writer" www.msmith.art

Want a thing? Nice one, get in touch: mitchellsmithart@gmail.com