Louise Bourgeois

I walk to London Bridge and cross the Thames. The cobbled streets along the river are full of kids hopping and couples cuddling, their weekend paces slower than usual. I wear big headphones and listen to my mix, watching everyone as I pass them by. I pretend they too can hear the music and are choosing their own choreography.

When I get to the Tate Modern, I see the spider and I sit and stare.

Sculpted from steel by Louise Bourgeois, the spider is called Maman and OH MY GOD. This is the beast that I dreamed was outside my bedroom door when I was kid. Who kept me gripping the sheets and flinching before I snuck into my parents' room and crawled in bed with them. This spider's greatest desire: to devour me alive.

Not surprisingly, everyone else around the sculpture appears unconcerned.

But I know that Louise Bourgeois gets it because Maman was created from her own preoccupations with childhood anxieties and family relationships. Louise knows it's creepy. I take off my coat and sit on a bench. I replay the mix in my ears and watch people interact with the spider and with each other.

Most of them stand at a distance and put someone in the foreground whose smile freezes for a moment before they move on. Some walk up to Maman and pose with one of her 30-foot-tall legs. Giddy couples huddle close to each other and hold the camera away from themselves with one arm outstretched. They're just happy to be there together and if there's a spider leg in the frame, that's cool too.

Two teenage girls dance in circles and leap back and forth like ice skaters. They take turns practicing moves in front of Maman while the other captures it on camera. They run to each other to review the shots, laughing. HIGH FIVE!


roopa said...

That spider scared the shit out of me, too. I couldn't look at it too long.

What did you think of the big crack in the floor that was their special exhibit?

And I think you'll like this picture I took on the south end of the Southwark Bridge.

Anonymous said...

aww, man, i love her work. i've always wanted to go to the tate modern.